The Montreal Canadiens announced the passing of Guy Lafleur this morning. Lung cancer. Age 70. His death comes just one week after Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders. Age 65. Lung cancer. Too soon for the two of them. Too sad for their millions of fans.
Admittedly, I was too young and probably too stupid, to appreciate just how good Guy Lafleur — and the Montreal dynasty of the 1970s — was. A Toronto native, and a Leafs fan of teams that were quite good, but not nearly Canadiens good, my memories of Lafleur are mostly of jealousy.
We didn’t see a lot of Mike Bossy on Canadian TV … until the playoffs rolled around. By the time of the Islanders dynasty (a couple of years after the Maple Leafs eliminated them in the 1978 quarterfinals — before losing to Montreal — in one of the two biggest highlights of my young Leafs fandom) the Leafs were in decline, I was a little bit older, and Mike Bossy was a sight to behold. He didn’t have the obvious speed and style of Guy Lafleur, but nobody scored goals like Bossy did. Of course, by then, I was more into Wayne Gretzky, so I probably didn’t appreciate Bossy as much as I should have either.
So much has been written and said about these two superstars following their deaths. I don’t know that I have anything new to add. So, I’ll contribute something old. Both players were included in chapters of my 2010 book, Twenty Greatest Hockey Goals. It’s a lot of reading, but if you care to, or when you have the time, please check out these stories on Guy Lafleur and Mike Bossy.