This initiative started in the years leading to the franchise’s Centennial celebrations in 2009. In the process, 10 other players have had a similar honour bestowed upon them between 2005 and 2009. Guy Lapointe will become the 18th player in franchise history to have his jersey raised to the Bell Centre rafters alongside those of the club’s greatest legends.
Throughout its history, the Montreal Canadiens have retired jerseys honouring 17 of their greatest players whose performances helped propel the team to the highest success. In chronological order, they are:
Howie Morenz Number 7, November 2, 1937
Maurice Richard Number 9, October 6, 1960
Jean Béliveau Number 4, October 9, 1971
Henri Richard Number 16, December 10, 1975
Guy Lafleur Number 10, February 16, 1985
Doug Harvey Number 2, October 26, 1985
Jacques Plante Number 1, October 7, 1995
Dickie MooreNumber 12, November 12, 2005
Yvan Cournoyer Number 12, November 12, 2005
Bernard Geoffrion Number 5, March 11, 2006
Serge Savard Number 18, November 18, 2006
Ken Dryden Number 29, January 29, 2007
Larry RobinsonNumber 19,November 19, 2007
Bob GaineyNumber 23,February 23, 2008
Patrick RoyNumber 33,November 22, 2008
Elmer LachNumber 16,December 4, 2009
Émile BouchardNumber 3,December 4, 2009
Born in Montreal on March 18, 1948, within a stone’s throw of parc La Fontaine, Guy Lapointe was 12 years old when he began playing hockey while at Saint-François-Xavier school in the east end. The second of three boys in the family of Gérard and Rollande Lapointe, Guy went on to play midget and juvenile hockey with the Immaculée-Conception Alouettes before suiting up with the Maisonneuve juniors and the Verdun Maple Leafs where he was the league’s top defenseman in 1965-66. His great skating skills and lethal slap shot from the point got him a try-out with Roger Bédard’s Junior Canadiens. The 1967-68 season turns out to be a stepping stone for Lapointe who recorded 11 goals and 27 helpers in 51 games and served 147 penalty minutes earning him his first professional contract with the Montreal Canadiens’ organization.
In September 1968, Guy Lapointe takes part in his first training camp with the Canadiens and officially turns professional suiting up with the Houston Apollos, the club’s main affiliate team in the Central Hockey League. Away from home for the first time and getting used to a different environment, Lapointe suffers an early set back when he is diagnosed with pneumonia. Despite this condition, he is called up by the Canadiens and on October 27, 1968 he plays his first NHL game in Boston serving the first two minutes of his 893 career penalty minutes.
Following the season, the Canadiens moved their main affiliate team to Montreal where it would be known as the Voyageurs in the AHL. This return to the fold was beneficial to Lapointe who enjoyed a productive year with 38 points, including eight goals in 57 games, leading his team to first place in the Eastern division. During the season, Lapointe was called up for a five-game stint replacing an injured Jean-Claude Tremblay and earning him a regular roster spot for the 1970-71 season.
In his first complete season with the Montreal Canadiens, in 1970-71, Lapointe records 44 points in 78 games, scoring 15 goals, including his first NHL goal when the Canadiens faced the Sabres in Buffalo, on October 15. Some 43 years later, his goal total that year remains a franchise record for most goals by a defenseman in his rookie season. Furthermore, his first season in the league would also see him etch his name on the Stanley Cup for the first time of his career. In the playoffs, Lapointe continued to shine adding nine points in 20 games.
In his 12 full seasons with the Canadiens, Guy Lapointe enjoyed three seasons of 50-point or more and three more seasons with at least 40 points. Armed with a lethal slap shot he uses generously on the power play, Lapointe recorded 28 goals in 1974-75 setting a team record he still owns almost 40 years later for most goals by a defenceman. At the time, Lapointe was only the fourth defenseman in league history to record at least 20 goals in a season after Flash Hollett (1944-45), Bobby Orr (on several occasions) and Brad Park (1971-1972).
For seven years, Guy Lapointe and his teammates Larry Robinson and Serge Savard were known as the Big Three, a fearsome group of talented defensemen who were a complete package of skill and gamesmanship. The three all-star defensemen were among the many assets who would help the Canadiens outrageously dominate their opponents. Between 1973 and 1980, the Big Three led the Canadiens to four straight Stanley Cup championships, from 1976 to 1979, as the three D-men amassed 1,140 points including 289 goals. In 1974-75, Larry, Serge and Guy all record at least 60 points, with a team high 75 points for Lapointe, good for 4th place on his team’s scoring list. The Canadiens, with Lapointe leading all defensemen with 11 power-play goals, set an NHL record scoring a staggering 82 goals with the man advantage.
Throughout his career with the Montreal Canadiens, and then with the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, Lapointe played 894 games scoring 171 goals and assisting on 451 others for a combined total of 622 points. He was also assessed 893 penalty minutes. In the playoffs, Lapointe added 70 points in 123 post-season games. A team player, Lapointe was never after individual awards but his talent and skills did not go unnoticed. In 1973 he was voted to the NHL’s first All-Star team. He was also voted to the NHL’s Second All-Star team in 1975, 1976 and 1977. Back in 1972-73, he was runner-up to the much sought-after Norris award as the NHL’s top rearguard behind perennial winner Bobby Orr. Lapointe would also etch his name on the Holy Grail six times, 1971, 1973 and from 1976 to 1979, during his stellar career.
A solid player every time he set foot on the ice, particularly on the power-play, Guy Lapointe was also an outstanding representative for his country on the international stage. In 1972, his steady play earned him a selection on Team Canada in the extraordinary Summit Series against the Soviet Union. His tremendous stride, his accurate passes and tough checking skills made him an intimidating force and one of the most complete defensemen on the planet. Four years later, it was déjà vu all over again as “Pointu” was invited to represent his homeland in the first edition of the Canada Cup. In the tournament, he records four assists and helps Canada defeat Czechoslovakia in the final. Lapointe, with a 55-point harvest and 7th place on the Canadiens scoring list, takes part in the 1979 Challenge Cup against their Soviet counterparts.
After two seasons with the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins, and a few nagging injuries that limited his playing time, Lapointe calls it a career at the end of the 1983-1984 season. Lapointe remains associated with hockey as an assistant coach to Michel Bergeron in Quebec City. He will go on to become head coach and general manager of the Longueuil Chevaliers of the QMJHL, taking the team to a berth in the Memorial Cup tournament in 1987. He would later return to the Nordiques as an assistant, from 1987 to 1990. For over a 25 years Lapointe has been involved in the scouting of young talent, first with the Calgary Flames where he spent nine years, before joining the Minnesota Wild in 1999 as Amateur Scouting Coordinator.
GUY LAPOINTE’S CAREER MILESTONES WITH THE MONTREAL CANADIENS
1st gameOctober 27, 1968 vs Bruins at Boston
100th gameNovember 14, 1971 vs Sabres at Buffalo
200th game January27, 1973 vs Maple Leafs at Montreal
300th gameApril 7, 1974 vs Rangers at New York
400th gameNovember 19, 1975 vs North Stars at Minnesota
500th gameJanuary 12, 1977 vs Blues at St. Louis
600th gameNovember 15, 1978 vs Rockies at Colorado
700th gameOctober 15, 1980 vs Capitals at Washington
1st goalOctober 15, 1970 vs Sabres at Buffalo
100th goalFebruary 14, 1986 vs Los Angeles Kings (Gary Edwards)
1st assistOctober 11, 1970 vs Flyers at Philadelphia
100th assistMarch 17, 1973 vs Sabres at Montreal
200th assistNovember 15, 1975 vs Blackhawks at Montreal
300th assistFebruary 17, 1978 vs Capitals at Washington
400th assistJanuary 19, 1982 vs Sabres at Buffalo
1st pointOctober 11, 1970 vs Flyers at Philadelphia (assist)
100th pointNovember 1, 1972 vs Penguins at Pittsburgh (assist)
200th pointApril 7, 1974 vs Rangers at New York (assist)
300th pointDecember 17, 1975 vs Kings at Los Angeles (goal)
400th pointFebruary 27, 1977 vs Rangers at New York (assist)
500th pointFebruary 25, 1979 vs Capitals at Washington (assist)