Man Lafleur has cradled the Stanley Cup in his arms extra occasions than he can depend.
The Montreal Canadiens icon has spent time with the beneficial trophy at black-tie occasions and at informal affairs, with captains of substitute and captains of peewee groups, at connoisseur banquets under cathedral ceilings and under the vinyl roofs of birthday celebration tents with hot canines and burgers on the menu.
On Sunday, under a cloudless sky, Lafleur welcomed the Stanley Cup to his dwelling in the suburbs west of Montreal, and never had hockey’s holy grail intended extra to him. Never used to be the trophy extra shiny, never used to be its non-public significance in sharper focus.
Every three weeks since January, the 69-yr-ragged Canadiens legend has arrived at a Montreal clinic for a round of cancer medicine, 10 minutes of chemotherapy adopted by 30 minutes of immunotherapy. A day earlier, he would obtain long gone for a blood test to prepare for the session.
Man Lafleur’s time with the Stanley Cup on June 6 integrated an event to serve promote his cancer-evaluate fund.
For a time, he used to be getting radiation treatment, cancer having metastasized from his lungs to his ribs. He says that clinical doctors are proud of how he’s responding to that aggressive medicine.
Lafleur never knows how he’ll react to the chemo and immunotherapy, which as segment of his two-yr program is scheduled to continue each three weeks for every other 18 months, with scans conducted each eight weeks.
Early on, he’d be flattened by it, needing to sleep 18 or 20 hours the next day. The outdated couple of therapies, he said with reduction, obtain taken less of a toll.
Or no longer it is been a enormously nerve-racking avenue since September 2019, when a routine checkup printed that Lafleur had four practically completely blocked coronary arteries. Lung cancer used to be detected during his emergency bypass surgical diagram, on the other hand it will perchance well be two months before he used to be stable ample for surgeons to do away with one-third of his factual lung.
Lafleur used to be on the avenue support about a months later, slowly returning to his public lifestyles, when his cancer reappeared superb October. The radiation, chemo and immunotherapy had been a segment of his days since January.
With a compromised immune system during the COVID-19 pandemic, Lafleur used to be very careful being out in public during the early days of his medicine. Progressively, he’s been doing a bit extra of what he no longer most effective loves but considers his responsibility.
“I omit doing what I stay most effective — promotions, assembly followers, going to banquets, varied charity occasions to steal cash for others,” he said of following in the enormous footsteps of his late friend and idol Jean Beliveau, the Canadiens’ most involving captain. “That’s what I have been doing all my lifestyles. That’s what I am lacking. You build no longer are searching to be dwelling the four walls.”
Man Lafleur early in the 1970s on the Montreal Forum, and speaking at his Hockey Hall of Fame induction in 1988.
Lafleur used to be about a days previous his eighth medicine when the Stanley Cup arrived at his dwelling Sunday, the first time he’d had the trophy for himself, on the very least legally.
In 1978, whereas the Canadiens infamous their third of 4 consecutive championships (Lafleur’s fourth of his 5), Lafleur hatched an interpret diagram to kidnap the trophy from the trunk of the vehicle of public relations director Claude Mouton, parked exterior the downtown Montreal tavern of crew legend Henri Richard. From there, he smuggled it to Thurso, Quebec, to the pleasure of his place of beginning, and to his non-public suburban Montreal yard.
That used to be 15 years before the tradition began to provide a victorious participant a day with the trophy.
About a decade previously, the Cup and person trophies Lafleur won during his Hockey Hall of Fame occupation made a tranquil appearance at a cafe he then owned north of Montreal.
Man Lafleur and his companion, Lise (third from left), at their dwelling on June 6 with the Stanley Cup. With them are son Mark (a long way factual) and his female friend, Natacha (a long way left); and son Martin along with his companion, Angelica, and their 3-yr-ragged daughter Sienna Rose.
However the few hours he spent with the Stanley Cup on Sunday marked Lafleur’s first likelihood to finally part hockey’s grandest prize along with his household, whom he views as his cornerstones: his companion, Lise; son Martin and his companion, Angelica; son Mark and his female friend, Natacha; and Martin and Angelica’s 3-yr-ragged daughter, Sienna Rose, Lafleur’s most effective grandchild.
“A participant’s household would no longer net the credit rating they deserve,” Lafleur said, reflecting on the Cup’s talk over with and the cancer battle he’s waging, suggesting that his time with the trophy used to be extra about his household and others than it used to be about himself. “And now Sienna Rose will repeatedly obtain a photograph of herself with the Stanley Cup.”
Lafleur used to be supplied a day with the Cup in the summer season of 2005, when the 2004-05 NHL season used to be canceled as a result of a lockout. Many aged avid gamers who never had the different enjoyed the likelihood, but Lafleur modified into it down, telling Philip Pritchard, the Hall of Fame curator and so-called Keeper of the Cup, that extra senior avid gamers must level-headed obtain it first, that his turn would come.
Sixteen years later, it did. Longtime friend Donnie Cape got the puck rolling with NHL Alumni Association executive director Glenn Healy and Pritchard, the NHL additionally lending its support.
Linked to the talk over with, after the Stanley Cup’s time at Lafleur’s dwelling, could well be two hours at a close-by vehicle dealership. That used to be carried out to promote a fundraiser for the Man Lafleur Fund, a cancer evaluate initiative established in March on the Centre hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal (CHUM), where his medicine is being carried out.
Dozens came to the non-public purpose to soundly meet and be photographed with Lafleur, who is completely vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19, and the Stanley Cup. By Nov. 1, the Dilawri Community of Companies is aiming to donate between $50,000 and $100,000 to the fund, tied to the sale of recent autos at its 10 dealerships in Quebec.
What wasn’t identified when the Cup’s talk over with used to be deliberate used to be that the Canadiens could well be web web hosting the Winnipeg Jets that night time in Sport 3 of the Stanley Cup 2d Round.
Effectively unsleeping that superstitious groups can’t undergo to acquire the Cup of their city during the playoffs, Pritchard and Hall of Fame colleague Mario Della-Savia had the trophy in its case and all throughout the border support in Ontario, sure for Toronto by vehicle, 90 minutes before face-off. Lafleur joined fellow Canadiens ambassadors Yvan Cournoyer and Rejean Houle in a Bell Centre suite for Montreal’s 5-1 victory.
Man Lafleur and Yvan Cournoyer in 2016, arriving in Detroit for the funeral of Gordie Howe, and masked at Bell Centre on June 6 for Sport 3 of the Canadiens-Jets sequence.
Lafleur’s appearance on the arena scoreboard raised the roof, 2,500 followers amongst the infinite quantity who fancy him 36 years after he conducted his superb sport for the Canadiens. He used to be one of many most electrifying avid gamers of his technology, and no-one since Lafleur has lifted Canadiens followers out of their seats rather the identical manner on a rink-size speed.
An offensive marvel in fundamental junior for the Quebec Remparts, Lafleur used to be chosen No. 1 by the Canadiens in the 1971 NHL Draft, which used to be held in Montreal 50 years previously Thursday.
“I peek at pictures and film from that day, on the garments I used to be carrying, and I am staunch happy that everyone dressed the identical,” he said, laughing.
Lafleur scored 518 needs, on the support of most effective the 544 of Maurice “Rocket” Richard in Canadiens ancient previous, between 1971-72 and 1984-85, his 1,246 capabilities ranked No. 1. He then scored 107 capabilities (42 needs, 65 assists) for the Unusual York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques from 1988-91, having returned to the NHL following a practically about four-yr retirement and his 1988 Hall of Fame enshrinement.
Man Lafleur came out of retirement following his 1988 Hall of Fame induction to play a season for the Unusual York Rangers, then two for the Quebec Nordiques.
The ahead won each the Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer in the NHL and the Ted Lindsay Award, voted as the most prominent participant by the NHL Gamers’ Association, in 1976, 1977 and 1978; the Hart Trophy, voted as NHL MVP, in 1977 and 1978; and the Conn Smythe Trophy, voted as playoff MVP, in 1977.
Lafleur remains justifiably proud of his playful 1978 “theft” of the Cup. He said his first championship, in 1973, is seemingly to be his most particular, having heard from teammates that most effective by successful the trophy can even a participant truly ticket its magic.
He additionally laughed about the flight dwelling from Chicago following that first Cup obtain, when he bumped teammate Claude Larose and his broken leg off a stretcher so as that he can even consume it, refreshed to the point of being unable to dash.
Never, Lafleur said, without reference to how in total he’s considered it, does he tire of being in its sterling company. Always he thinks of his teammates — those level-headed with him, too many who’re long gone.
Man Lafleur in his place of beginning of Thurso, Quebec in late Would possibly perchance well perchance honest 1978, having “stolen” the Stanley Cup. At factual is his son, Martin, with a neighborhood child on the left.
“Do that you’ll want to are going to need of challenge to be with the Cup, it brings support so many memories, the effort you had to battle through to amass it,” he said. “And when to acquire it once, you will need to amass it every other time for your crew, your followers and yourself. You watched about the total avid gamers who had been segment of the crew. That’s what you omit the most whereas you close your occupation, the household of your teammates.”
The Stanley Cup will seemingly be Lafleur’s second shadow each step of his lifestyles. He grows deeply introspective when he thinks aloud about how his non-public effort has introduced him into verify of others, about what number of, of all ages, he sees courageously staring down the illness. Or no longer it is no longer remarkable for him to force to the house of a fellow cancer affected person he’s never met and dash in unannounced to provide about a moments of cheer.
“CHUM requested me about growing a fund and I used to be happy to stay it,” Lafleur said. “They need a lot cash to stay evaluate. When I chase there each three weeks, there are so many folk receiving medicine. Or no longer it is unattainable. … I am repeatedly wondering, we chase to the moon and to Mars, sooner or later will they obtain a medication for cancer? The evaluate is so foremost. Success manner serving to to fortify the lives of cancer patients.
“Or no longer it is very limited, very thin who we’re and what we stay on this Earth. As contributors, we build no longer mean much. There could be a asserting in French that I factor in. It translates to: ‘I am working out of my borrowed time.'”
Man Lafleur poses for a Montreal Forum portrait during his 1970s high with the Canadiens.
With that, Lafleur stopped, emotion choking off his phrases. In the fracture:
“That’s what I realize,” he said. “I strive to serve others now, on the other hand it is no longer the identical. I are searching to stay much, loads extra, but I will not. The illness is simply too long-established and it is no longer most effective the aged. Or no longer it is younger kids. I undergo in thoughts doing work on behalf of leukemia evaluate after I began with the Canadiens. Children … I mean, why does a kid derive cancer?
“I hear from many, many of us which obtain cancer. I’ve carried out video calls with of us, made phone calls — no longer throughout the Canadiens, but with of us that know me or obtain me. Any individual will inquire of of, ‘Would you phone this person for me?’ I could support them the most involving I can. Or no longer it is essential to stay this.
“As avid gamers, we had the adulation of followers. I must give support because these of us had been my bread and butter after I conducted, my energy. Attain I take energy from them now? Streak, I stay. Attain I give them energy? I am hoping that perchance we destroy even.”
Be taught extra about the Man Lafleur Fund right here.
Images: HHoF Images; Connor McCollam; Getty Images; Man Lafleur; Evelyn Cournoyer; Dave Stubbs