As told to: Dave Bidini
Guy Lafleur was the most dynamic, captivating player that I ever played with. When he got the puck, everyone in the rink just knew that something was going to happen. There have only been a few players that had that aura about them: Rocket Richard. Bobby Orr. Frank Mahovlich. Bobby Hull. Mario Lemieux. I don’t think that Wayne Gretzky had it. He was more a thinking man’s player. Dennis Potvin didn’t have it. Gilbert Perrault had it but didn’t use it all the time. Very few players could pull people out of their seats just because they had the puck.
Playing with Guy was very interesting because he was what is known as a “100% instinct” player. He used to drive Scotty Bowman crazy because he could not do a set play in practice. We would start a drill and when the puck came to Lafleur, he would give a deer-in-the-headlights look and then he would panic trying to think of what the play was supposed to be. More often than not, he would fire the puck right back where it came from, causing Scotty to go ballistic on the ice, which made matters worse. Next game, he would play his instinctive style and would score two goals and three assists and everything would be back to normal. One time I asked him, “If you don’t know what you are going to do with the puck, how am I supposed to figure out where to go on the ice?”
When he got the puck, everyone in the rink just knew that something was going to happen.
He replied, “That’s your problem,” and gave me a little laugh.
The only “strategy” meeting we ever had was during a Sunday afternoon NBC Game of the Week against the Detroit Red Wings at the Forum in Montreal. It’s during the game with a faceoff in the Detroit zone, and Guy skates over to me in front of the net and says, “If Lemaire wins the faceoff to me on the boards, stay on the ear.”
“Huh?” I said.
The NBC games were very well orchestrated and when they went to commercial, a red light went on at the scorekeeper’s box, and once the light went out, the referees had to drop the puck right away.
So Lemaire wins the faceoff to Lafleur, who fires the puck to me, “on the ear,” and I am laughing so hard that I can’t move my stick. So much for strategy.
DAVE BIDINI is the co-creator of ‘Slapshot Diaries’ as well as a writer/musician/columnist from Toronto and the author of 12 books.
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