Steve Shutt:

MY PHOTO ALBUM NO. 2

As told to: Dave Bidini

SteveShuttGuy 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 there we were, standing on the ice together while the Red Wings, the referee, and NBC were waiting for us.
“Huh?” I said again. Guy took his glove off and turned it over on the palm so the other team couldn’t see and said, “See the faceoff circle?” as he does a circle with his glove.
“Yea, I see it.”
“Well stay here right on the ear.”
“Oh, the hash mark on the circle?”
“Is that what they call it?”
“Yea.”
“Okay stay there,” he said.
Now everybody in the rink is waiting for us to finish our “strategy” meeting.

 

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.

Most players after the ’72 Russia-Canada series started taking off-ice summer training a little more seriously. With the shorter training camp – three days – before we started playing games, it forced everyone to get on the ice in August and into the gym. Everyone, that is, except Guy. After the last game of the season, he would leave his skates at the Forum all summer and put them on the first day of training camp in the fall. In 1976, in the Canada Cup – where it was Canada against the rest of the world (and the Russians) – Scotty started the camp with dry-land training: stretching, lifting weights, and running. To do this, he got the head instructor from the YMCA to lead the way. The first drill after our warm-up was a three-mile run. Off we went, following the instructor – some guys right behind him, some (especially the goalies), falling behind almost immediately.This goes on for about a mile, and then Lafleur has decided that he’s had enough and he takes off, past the instructor, who then picks up the pace to catch Lafleur. The only problem is that he can’t catch him and the rest of the team can’t catch the instructor.Two miles later, the instructor finally caught him. He was already in the dressing room at the Forum having a cigarette. The rest of the team straggled in 10-20 minutes later, so tired that the practice was at a crawl, except for Lafleur who was his usual self, flying up and down the wing. Who says that some people are not special?

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One thought on “MY PHOTO ALBUM NO. 2

  1. Thank you Steve Shutt. You are so right about the players that have that raw natural talent and Guy Lafleur was clearly a special athlete!

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