During today’s Minnesota Wild morning skate at Bell Centre in Montreal, there was a large blue and red No. 5 imprinted on the ice behind both nets. Tonight, that number, which belongs to former Canadiens defenseman and Director of Amateur Scouting for the Wild, Guy Lapointe, will hang from the rafters. The Habs will retire it before tonight’s game with Minnesota.
Lapointe helped the Canadiens raise six Stanley Cups in the 1970s. He played 777 games with the Canadiens, scoring 166 goals and adding 406 assists for 572 points. The blueliner also played for the St. Louis Blues and Boston Bruins before ending his Hall of Fame career in 1984. He finished with 622 points (171-451=622) in 894 games.
“A man that grew up, as a kid, not too far from the Montreal Forum,” Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher said. “Always dreamed of playing for the Canadiens, never thought it would happen. Not only did it end up happening, he ended up having a Hall of Fame career.
“To see his jersey raised to the rafters is a tremendous honor.”
Lapointe has been with the Wild since 1999. The 66-year-old has transitioned from an offensive defenseman to a perceptive scout.
“He’s a terrific judge of talent,” Fletcher said. “A lot of the players who are on our team now are playing and contributing because of his insight.”
Along with his accomplishments on and off the ice, Lapointe has kept a healthy sense of humor throughout his career. During season one of Becoming Wild, presented by Toyota, he pulled off one of his infamous pranks, the shoe check, pouring ketchup on an unsuspecting victims loafer.
“I’ve been shoe-checked once in pro hockey,” Wild Head Coach Mike Yeo smiled. “It was from Guy when I first got the job in Minnesota.
“You know what great player he was and a great career he had. To be around him, he’s such a joy, that’s the best way that I can put it.”
Lapointe’s love for laughter is matched by his passion for hockey.
“This is a guy who could easily retire and sit back, but he loves the game of hockey,” Fletcher said. “He has such a great passion for scouting and for the game, and loves to be a part of the team.”
Putting the team first is something he’s always embraced. Playing for the crest in front of the sweater and not the name behind it. Before the team’s morning skate, Lapointe delivered that message to the Wild.
“His main underlying point was that it’s always about the team,” Wild forward Charlie Coyle said. “It’s never about individuals. Becoming a team on and off the ice really helps you.”
Although he’s one to want team recognition ahead of his own, Lapointe will get his time in the spotlight before the game. His no. 5 sweater will be the 18th retired number in the Canadiens’ storied history.
Ballard Expected To Return
Defenseman Keith Ballard is likely to return to the blue line tonight, after missing eight games due to illness. He’ll be paired with Matt Dumba. Nate Prosser will come out of the lineup.