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Mark Mulvoy
March 01, 1971
They cannot finish in first place, but the Canadiens are fighting to be first in line for the rights to a blooming Guy from Quebec
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March 01, 1971

To Pick A Golden Flower

They cannot finish in first place, but the Canadiens are fighting to be first in line for the rights to a blooming Guy from Quebec

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Guy's father rebelled at the thought of his 14-year-old son living with a strange family in Quebec City and declined the offer. But when Dumont wrote again a year later the answer was yes.

As Guy soon discovered, junior hockey is a lonely life for a boy. Each year he was placed with a different family living near the Coliseum. "The first year was the worst," he says. "I was only 15, and most of my teammates were 18 and 19. I was too young to go out with them, and I didn't know too many other people in the city. It was pretty terrible at times."

"We look after everything for our boys," says Paul Dumont. "We give them pocket money, get them a room, see that they go to school and, of course, let them play hockey. It is a tough life, sure. But it also is a very rewarding life."

Now Lafleur has finished his schooling, something many junior players never do, and he has his own quarters close to the Coliseum. Guy probably earns somewhere between $12,500 and $20,000 for playing amateur hockey with the Remparts. He won't discuss the total, but of money in general he says, "I buy lots of clothes and I put the rest in the bank. For now that is the best place."

For Guy Lafleur a game day in Quebec City means that he will be Exhibit A once more, and he generally arrives at the Coliseum at 3:30 for an 8:15 contest. "I like to sit in the Coliseum by myself and think about the game," he says. "I play over in my mind what I think the game will be like, and I always see myself scoring between three and six goals." All afternoon the phone rings in the Remparts office. Suzanne Belanger, the petite secretary, writes down names and hands them to Jean Sawyer, the publicist, who later will give them to Maurice Filion, coach of the Remparts. "Scouts," Sawyer explains, using one of his few English words.

After his "psych session," as he calls it, Guy walks down to the Remparts' dressing room to check his skates and his sticks. Alongside his locker stall, taped to a wall, is a large color picture of Jean Beliveau in his Canadien uniform. "That man is my hero," Guy says. "I may never be able to play hockey like him but I'd like to be the man he is." Guy's fingers go down the blades of his skates. His hands are enormous.

"I used to milk cows and rake hay during the summers when I was young," he continues. "I've always had big hands because of that. In hockey big hands are very important." Some of the other Remparts drop into the room, and they start to kid Lafleur about something. "Go ahead, tell him," they say. Guy remains silent, so one of his teammates tells a story.

"One night Guy has four goals after the second period at Cornwall," the player says, "and a photographer asks him if he's going to score again. Guy says yes, and the photographer asks him how? So Guy says he will skate behind the net, come out in front and shoot from 20 feet—face-on at the camera—in the first minute of play. Darned if he doesn't, and he scored the goal, too."

Before one recent game Bernie Geoffrion, now a scout for the New York Rangers, brought Jeep George, another Ranger scout, into the Remparts' dressing room to see Lafleur. Then Boom Boom talked with Claude Dolbec, the coach of the Shawinigan Bruins, Lafleur's opposition that night. Both Geoffrion and Dolbec agreed that, among other things, Lafleur is too strong for the Junior "A", that he should be in the NHL now. Indeed, he has scored almost twice as many goals as any other player in the league.

There are three Junior "A" leagues in Canada—the Quebec League containing the Remparts, the Ontario Hockey Association and the Western League. Of the three the Ontario League is rated the strongest by far, with the Western League second and the Quebec League third. "Maybe I'm not getting the opposition I should have," Guy says, "but I don't think it's hurting me. I keep working on my whole game, not just scoring."

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