'I feel very lucky': Guy Lafleur talks about his health

Canadiens legend talks about fellow Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk's death from cancer

Stu Cowan, Montreal Gazette September 2, 2020

It was fantastic to see a healthy-looking Guy Lafleur attend the third annual Jonathan Drouin Golf Tournament at Le Mirage in Terrebonne Tuesday to raise money for the Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).

Last September, Lafleur underwent successful quadruple-bypass heart surgery at the CHUM hospital. In December, Lafleur was back at the hospital to have surgery to remove a lobe on one of his lungs, as well as to remove ganglions.

“I feel good,” Lafleur, 68, told TSN’s John Lu and reporters at the golf tournament Tuesday morning. “I feel very lucky to be where I am today and to be able to get all the support from the CHUM and the hospital there. They have so many great people taking care of me, so it’s nice to be back on track.

“When they asked me to do it, I didn’t hesitate,” Lafleur added about attending the charity golf event. “It’s nice to receive in life, but it’s nice to give something back to the society and try to help different organizations, especially the CHUM, to raise as much money as they can to help people so they could get a better quality of life. That’s the main thing. That’s what happened to me and I would wish to see a lot of people getting the same treatment and getting better after their treatment.”

Unfortunately, Dale Hawerchuk — another Hockey Hall of Famer — wasn’t as fortunate as Lafleur in his battle with cancer. Hawerchuk died on Aug. 18 at age 57 from stomach cancer.

“I was talking a couple of months ago with Dale Hawerchuk,” Lafleur said. “We lost him, but I was in contact almost every second week with him on the phone, talking about our problems and things like that. I was really sad to hear that he passed away, but you know it’s something that you have to enjoy life. It’s very important to be healthy and do everything that you can to get back on track.

“Compared to him … that’s what I told him, I was very lucky compared to him,” Lafleur added. “His cancer was worse than mine. When you talk to guys like that, I have so much respect for Dale. I had the opportunity of playing with the old-timers with him and talking to him and trying to encourage him to go through all the pain and all the medical stuff that he had to do. It’s tough … it’s tough. I was talking also to (former Canadien) Tom Kurvers, who’s got cancer. (Former Canadien) Guy Lapointe, I talked to him a couple of days ago. We keep in touch and we try to help each other out, encouraging each other. That’s about it. The rest, it’s up to the doctors and the nurses and the hospitals to take care of the rest.”

Kurvers was diagnosed last year with lung cancer, while Hall of Famer Lapointe was diagnosed last year with oral cancer.

Drouin sticks up for Domi

Drouin and Max Domi are not only Canadiens teammates, but also great friends off the ice.

In the span of one year, Domi has gone from being a fan favourite in Montreal to a player Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin is likely to trade during the offseason with Domi becoming a restricted free agent.

Frank Seravalli published TSN’s first Trade Bait board of the year on Tuesday and Domi was No. 8 on the list behind Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Matt Murray, Philadelphia Flyers left-winger James van Riemsdyk, Columbus Blue Jackets right-winger Josh Anderson, Arizona Coyotes defenceman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Winnipeg Jets left-winger Patrik Laine, Flyers defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere and New Jersey Devils right-winger Kyle Palimieri.

This was a disappointing season for the 25-year-old Domi, who had 17-27-44 totals in 71 regular-season games and was minus-3 before posting 0-3-3 totals in 10 postseason games. The previous season, after being acquired from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Domi led the Canadiens in scoring and set career highs in goals, assists and points with 28-44-72 totals, along with a plus-20.

It’s not a surprise that Drouin stuck up for his buddy when he spoke with the media at Tuesday’s golf tournament.

“Last year he was our best player with 72 points,” Drouin said. “Since I’ve been here, I haven’t seen another pick up 72 points, so …”

Domi’s 72 points were the most by any Canadiens player since Alex Kovalev posted 35-49-84 totals in 2007-08.

“You know, it’s hard for me to talk about it,” Drouin said about Domi’s current situation. “I’m a bit caught in the middle and can’t really respond the way I want to. But for me, all the people of Montreal and those who are currently on his back, things will have to calm down.”

Domi recently fired his agent, Pat Brisson, a longtime close friend of Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin. Ken Campbell of The Hockey News reported on Twitter Tuesday that he’s hearing Domi’s new agent will be Darren Ferris. Campbell also reported he’s hearing that Domi is open to returning to the Canadiens.

Among Ferris’s clients are Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, Arizona Coyotes forward Taylor Hall and Canadiens defenceman Victor Mete. Hall becomes an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

Walsh tweeted Wednesday morning that Drouin’s charity golf tournament raised $500,000 for the CHUM.

Molson answers questions from fans

Canadiens owner/president Geoff Molson has not spoken with the media since his team was eliminated by the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the playoffs, but he did recently answer some social-media questions from fans on the team’s website.

When asked what kind of player the Canadiens need from the 2020 NHL Draft (they have the No. 16 overall pick), Molson responded: “Well we have 14 picks in the 2020 draft so we’re going to get all kinds of great players. It’s always been the philosophy of our drafting team, led by Trevor Timmins and Marc Bergevin, to pick the best player available regardless of position. I attend all the draft meetings and listen to what the scouts have to say and there are some very good players available this year. Things have been a little different this year, in that our meetings are done over Microsoft Teams, which is our internal video conference platform.

“The scouts help rank players to start creating the draft list, and if there’s a player we’re looking at, our scouts have seen him play many, many times,” Molson added. “They’ve also spent quite a bit of time reviewing game footage this year. There are so many factors they look at, from speed and scoring and size, to off-ice attributes. You’re drafting the whole package. Things will be different this year, but the approach is the same.”

Asked when he thinks the rebuilding stage for the Canadiens will be over, Molson responded: “I think we’re heading into a phase where we’ve rebuilt enough to feel confident that we’re going to have a competitive team for the next several years. Every year we have to build off the prior season. I do think we have a core group of players, young guys and veterans, who are capable of delivering a high-performing team and we’ve got some great young prospects coming up as well. The way the team played in the playoffs this year was a great sign of things to come.”

Birthday boy

Happy birthday to former Canadiens forward Brian Bellows, who turned 56 on Tuesday.

Bellows was a key player when the Canadiens won their last Stanley Cup in 1993, posting 40-48-88 totals in 82 regular-season games and 6-9-15 totals in 18 playoff games.

The only other Canadiens player to have a 40-goal season since Bellows is Vincent Damphousse, who scored 40 during the 1993-94 season.

Bellows was selected by the Minnesota North Stars with the No. 2 overall pick at the 1982 NHL Draft after the Boston Bruins picked defenceman Gord Kluzak.

The Canadiens acquired Bellows from the North Stars on Aug. 31, 1992 in exchange for Russ Courtnall. On June 29, 1995, the Canadiens traded Bellows to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Marc Bureau.

Bellows finished his NHL career with 485 goals and 1,022 points in 1,188 regular-season games.

Crosby has wrist surgery

Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford announced Tuesday that captain Sidney Crosby had successful arthroscopic wrist debridement surgery on Monday. The surgery was performed by Dr. Robert Hotchkiss of Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, in collaboration with team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas and UPMC hand and upper extremity surgery. Crosby’s recovery time is expected to be 3-4 weeks.

Crosby, 33, was limited to 41 games this season because of surgery to repair a core muscle injury and posted 16-31-47 totals. Crosby had 2-1-3 totals in four postseason games when the Canadiens eliminated the Penguins in the best-of-five qualifying round.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported Max Domi’s 72 points in 2018-19 were the most by any Canadiens player since  Saku Koivu posted 35-49-84 totals in 2007-08. In fact, it was Alex Kovalev who posted 35-49-84 totals in 2007-08. The Gazette regrets the error.




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