(Tampa) Chantal Machabée had warned us when it came time to provide the meeting with Martin Lafleur. “He is fine like his father, he never refuses a request! »
Posted at 6:00 a.m.
And as a matter of fact, Tuesday morning, Martin Lafleur calls us to arrange a meeting after the NHL trophy ceremony.
So we meet in front of his hotel, in the evening. An hour earlier, he had presented the Ted-Lindsay Trophy, awarded to the NHL’s most valuable player, as voted on by the other players. A trophy that his father, Guy, won three years in a row, from 1976 to 1978, when the prize was named after Lester B. Pearson.
Accompanied by Sportsnet colleague David Amber, he presented the trophy to Auston Matthews. The announcement followed the tribute to hockey people who have passed away in the past year, a video that began with Clark Gillies and Matiss Kivlenieks, and ended with Mike Bossy and Guy Lafleur.
He took advantage of his evening to chat with Matthews, but also with Claude Lemieux and Joe Sakic, who played two years with his father with the Quebec Nordiques, from 1989 to 1991. Martin Lafleur has very specific memories of Sakic, and no, these are not stories of mini-hockey games in the Nordiques locker room…
“I remember that Joe, with Tony Hrkac, always tried to invite me to Dagobert to go have a drink with them! launches the 47-year-old man, still amused. My father was not so happy, for example! But I was happy to see them again. I took the initiative to go shake hands with Joe. »
Martin Lafleur is accompanied by his spouse, Angelica. “The league has taken care of everything, it invites us here with my wife and we are very well received,” he explains.
And no, there was no question of saying no, because could have known the father knows that was never in his answer choices. Even when ill, he continued to grant interviews when his health permitted.
Martin Lafleur was to leave Tampa around 4 a.m. Wednesday morning to go to Ontario for another event on behalf of his father.
I also represent my family and it is an honor to do these events, because my father would have done it.
“We lived it in the Ardent Chapel. It completely changed the perception we had of the supporters, he continues. For us, it was always a challenge. The fans, we appreciate them, but they have taken away a lot of moments in our lives. But we don’t blame them! It was positive, it was for a photo, an autograph.
“But in the Ardent Chapel, the delivered people see us to tell us about the person. Not for hockey trivia. They were people touched either by a call my father made or by a visit to the hospital. Or it was a father who wanted to help his son like my father did with my brother. It was human and it changed me, because I find it so important to continue this charity. »
Martin Lafleur will continue his father’s work by acting as ambassador for the Fondation du CHUM, a role that Guy Lafleur held until his death. The Guy Lafleur Fund has raised $1.7 million, he says. Martin, he dreams of the figure of 10 million.
This is one way to deal with grief. Wednesday will be two months since the Blond Demon left us.
“It hasn’t entered my head yet. I worked with him, I played seven years with him in the Anciens Canadiens, I was in business with him. It’s a big chunk of my life that’s gone. It’s going to take a long time before I feel better. What is comforting are events like that, with our hockey world, in the hockey environment. These are beautiful moments that allow me to experience things through him.
“Events like tonight [mardi], it’s positive, it’s to pay tribute to extraordinary people. I try to look at it differently. And it brings me a kind of closure. It allows you to live it in a more positive way, because I know that there will always be events related to my father. And it’s important to keep the Lafleur name present. »