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The Montreal Canadiens showed once again that nobody does celebrations and a ceremonies quite like they do up where it all started for the game of hockey.
This time it was a sad moment, of course, as the Canadiens organization was honoring the memory of Hall of Fame legend Guy Lafleur, who was memorialized in rinks all across the league over the weekend after passing away at the too young age of 70 years old. Even in Boston where the B's arch-rival was appreciated for not only being the first player to score 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons, but also for epitomizing the true gentlemanly nature of hockey.
In Montreal on Sunday night against the Boston Bruins, though, the Montreal Canadiens called on all the history, all the prestige and all the honor within the Original Six franchise known for their pageantry and pomp and circumstance. It was to say goodbye to No. 10, a true French-Canadian legend of the Montreal glory teams of the 1970’s with his long hair flowing helmetless as he zipped up and down the ice scoring goals and creating offensive plays.
It started with beautiful imagery on the ice of Lafleur’s wonderful life and it ended with a 10-minute continuous ovation from the loving Bell Centre crowd for one of the best players to ever lace up the skates.
Just listen to the love pouring out from the crowd onto the ice:
Of course, the Canadiens didn’t win the game that was played afterward, but perhaps the next best thing happened. A Quebec native in Patrice Bergeron finished with two goals in the 5-3 win for the Boston Bruins, and did it in front of his dad, who adored Lafleur as his favorite player while watching the Canadiens from his native Quebec City.
The 36-year-old Bergeron was actually going to get the game off with the playoffs just around the corner, but he didn’t want to miss the chance to play in front of his parents on the night the Habs were going to honor his dad’s hero.
“He finished his career in Quebec with the Nordiques and that’s kind of what I remember. I was too young to remember his Montreal days. But I do remember his last game in the NHL in Quebec and the ceremony in Quebec. It’s vague in my memories but I still do remember it,” said the Quebec City native on Sunday morning. “He was my Dad’s favorite player growing up. So, I heard a lot about him when I was coming up and playing hockey and some of the stories, some of the things he was able to do during his career. He was an icon and someone that was, whether you were a Nordiques fan or a Montreal Canadiens’ fan, it didn’t matter. He was an icon. He was someone who was extremely respected throughout the province, and I think in Canada as well, so it didn’t matter that he was on the other side of the rivalry.
“The sport of hockey in Quebec and Canada has a tremendous impact on the lives of many people. I think it makes a difference. It helps people cope with different things in their respective lives. I think what Guy and some of the other greats in Montreal, the Beliveaus and Richards, I think the impact that they’ve had beyond the game of hockey, being able to connect with people and the community, has left a mark obviously and it’s something people remember.”
*Congrats to Jake DeBrusk on earning the Boston Bruins nomination for the Masterton Trophy, which embodies “perseverance, professionalism and dedication to hockey” after playing through his trade request becoming public midseason. (Boston Hockey Now)
*Marc-Andre Fleury is tearing it up for the Minnesota Wild since arriving there, and they are looking like a team that’s going to be a handful in the playoffs.
*Thank goodness this BCHL color analyst was removed from the broadcast immediately after this racist, hateful comment, and credit the play-by-play man for calling it out immediately. (Awful Announcing)
*Speaking of ceremonies, congrats to Ryan Getzlaf after playing his final game for the Anaheim Ducks over the weekend.
*Alex Ovechkin went shoulder-first into the boards on Sunday and the Capitals have to hope that he’s going to be okay after he didn’t return to the game. (The Athletic)
*For something completely different: Interesting article about conditioning for young athletes, and the very real, unhealthy pitfalls of coaching comparing sports to warfare when coaching children in sports. I have to say I agree with this 100 percent. (Simplifaster.com)