Canadiens set to retire Guy Lapointe's No. 5
MONTREAL (AP) Fun-loving Guy Lapointe will take a stroll down memory lane on Saturday night when the Montreal Canadiens retire his No. 5 jersey at the Bell Centre.
And he knows who he'll be thinking of - his father, Gerard, his former teammates, and his mentor, Claude Ruel, the Habs' coach when Lapointe broke into the NHL in 1970-71.
''I've been thinking about this every day ever since (Canadiens owner) Geoff Molson told me about it in June,'' Lapointe said.
Lapointe's will be the 18th Canadiens jersey to be retired and marks the last of the Big Three defensemen from the juggernaut team of the 1970s to receive the honor. Serge Savard's No. 18 was retired in 2006 and Larry Robinson's No. 19 in 2007.
''I'm happy he's being honored while he's alive,'' said Yvan Cournoyer, one of several teammates, including Savard, Robinson, Rejean Houle, Pierre Bouchard, Pierre Mondou, Yvon Lambert and Mario Tremblay, who will attend the ceremony.
''He was an exceptional player and a great person.''
The ceremony will begin 30 minutes before the Canadiens play Minnesota. Lapointe, now 66, has been a scout for the Wild since 1999.
Cournoyer knows from his own ceremony in 2005 how memorable an evening it will be for Lapointe.
''It's even better than getting inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame,'' said the man known as the Roadrunner for his blistering speed. ''It's quite the honor when you think of all the players who have worn the Canadiens jersey in more than 100 years.
''When the banner goes up, it's your whole life and entire career that you're seeing,'' Cournoyer said. ''You tell yourself that all the sacrifices, the injuries, the scars, were worth it - and that you'd be ready to do it all over.''
Houle remembers Lapointe as a player who loved being an offensive force.
''It was, `Get out of the way.' He had such acceleration and a powerful shot,'' Houle said.
When Lapointe cracked the NHL, he was able to play with boyhood idol Jean Beliveau. Lapointe says his best memory from his playing days is his very first game that 1970-71 season, a year that ended with him scoring 15 goals and earning the first of his six Stanley Cups.
''He had no weaknesses,'' Savard said. ''He was very good offensively, but also defensively.''
Lapointe played 777 games with the Canadiens, scoring 166 goals and adding 406 assists for 572 points.
He also played for the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins before ending his stellar career in 1984. His final tally: 622 points, including 171 goals, in 894 games.
Lapointe also represented Canada in the riveting Summit Series against the Soviet Union in 1972 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.
He also was known for his pranks, including cutting laces and underwear, putting shaving cream in skates, and slipping ketchup into shoes.