At the height of his career, Guy Lafleur invited Réjean Genois and Richard Legendre to the Canadiens’ dressing room ahead of the Québec vs. Poland matches (with Top 10 Wojtek Fibak) at Centre Paul-Sauvé.
So many people have a personal story about Guy Lafleur.
Réjean Genois recently shared his for the first time.
The chips were down in fall 1984. Hockey’s No.10 was unhappy with the playing style his former linemate and roommate Jacques Lemaire was asking of him and his offensive output was stalled.
“Guy didn’t travel to Chicago with the team so he could take some time to think things through. No one knew where to find him,” Réjean recalled, 38 years later.
That Monday, as people wondered where he was, the phone rang at the Genois’ house.
“It was Guy. He wanted to hit a few balls,” said Réjean, who’s originally from Ancienne-Lorette and had followed the Flower’s meteoric rise with the Québec Remparts in the junior hockey league.
Did you know they came this close to facing each other on the ice? Before accepting a tennis scholarship from Florida State University, Réjean had been invited to the Shawinigan Bruins training camp.
“We actually competed in the provincial pee-wee tournament. Guy played for Thurso and I played for Loretteville.”
The two athletes ended up meeting at Tennis 13, which Réjean represented at events and where Guy would pop in for coffee. Montréal Canadiens physio Yvon Bélanger ran a fitness centre there before gyms were trendy.
“I don’t think Guy had slept a wink,” said Réjean. “We had a cup of coffee. Guy got everything off his chest and said there was no turning back. He’d made his decision and would announce two days later that he was done.”
On November 26, 1984, Guy Lafleur shocked the nation when he retired at the age of 33, after 14 years with the Montréal Canadiens.
THE TIME ANDRE AGASSI DECIDED TO SULK
Here’s another one about Guy Lafleur, tennis and the time he DIDN’T meet Andre Agassi.
Eugène Lapierre wanted to do something special to celebrate Agassi’s 10th appearance at the tournament in Montréal.
After a bit of brainstorming, it was proposed that Guy Lafleur present his No.10 jersey to Agassi on Centre Court on Friday night.
Eugène thought it was a great idea. So did Guy, even though he spent long hours at his restaurant in Berthier.
What they say about him is true: Guy never said no.
So, what happened next? Nothing.
Agassi decided to sulk because Eugène had said no to his request to play afternoon matches earlier in the week, and that was his way of punishing the tournament.
His loss, for sure.
OFF THE ICE
In hockey and in life, Guy Lafleur was a straight shooter.
In summer, you’d never find him on the golf course with his teammates. His other sport was tennis.
“Guy hated golf with a passion,” affirmed sportswriter André Rousseau.
That’s only a slight exaggeration.
During the offseason, Guy would stay fit by hitting balls instead of locking himself up in a gym.
Was he any good with a racquet?
“Guy hit the ball well. He was very coordinated,” said Réjean Genois, who was president of Tennis Québec at the time.
What was his best shot?
“He had a great forehand. What also set him apart was his infallible kindness,” added Genois.
Guy Lafleur also had ties to tennis through the man who penned his weekly column in Le Journal de Montréal newspaper for three years: Jean-Guy Fugère, former president of Tennis Québec, certified ITF official and tennis writer for the National Bank Open.
“He was such a classy guy. Always available and appreciative,” said Fugère.
That’s how we all remember the legendary Guy Lafleur.