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Memories of Guy Lafleur and Mike Bossy

April 25, 2022, 11:58 AM ET [0 Comments]
Paul Stewart
Blogger •Former NHL Referee • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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Like the rest of the hockey world, I was saddened this week to learn of the passings of Guy Lafleur and Mike Bossy. Two outstanding gentlemen and two of the greatest goal-scorers I've ever been privileged to watch work on the rink.

My final game as an NHL player for the Quebec Nordiques was a contest against Lafleur's Montreal Canadiens on April 6, 1980. However, you won't find it in my career games played log. That's because I was dressing for the game but sat on the bench the entire night. With six seconds left in the third period, Jacques Demers told me to out for the final faceoff.

"It's good for your pension, Cat. Go out there," Demers said.

"Jacques, I'd love to, but I can't. I already took my skates off," I replied.

The game ended in a 4-4 tie. The Flower assisted on a Mark Napier goal. We rallied back from deficits of 3-0 and 4-3 with Real Cloutier's 42nd goal of the season knotting the score late in the third period.

Another time, I ran into Guy at a hotel in Los Angeles. I was relaxing in the whirlpool when Lafleur walked in, smoking a cigarette and holding a six-pack of beer. We chatted and enjoyed a brew or two together.

I had jumped to the other side of the game and was an NHL referee by the time he returned from a three-year retirement to join the New York Rangers in 1988-89. I believe it was his first game as a Ranger -- possibly his second -- when I reffed his game for the first time.

Guy was a talkative, good natured sort of fellow. You could tease him a bit and he'd give it right back.

Guy had either gotten a hair transplant or was wearing a toupee -- I wasn't sure -- but he definitely had much more hair on his head than the last time I'd seen him.

"Did someone glue than thing on?" I asked. "You don't want it flying off, fast as you skate."

"F- you! That was expensive," Lafleur replied with a chuckle and a grin.

In a case of things coming around full circle, I refereed Guy's final NHL game in 1991. By that time, he was playing for my old club, the Quebec Nordiques. On that night, the Flower received the lengthiest, loudest standing ovation I have ever heard. He also got cheered every time he jumped over the boards and every time he touched the puck.

Back when I played for Quebec, I also had a chance to play (yes, I got into that game) against Mike Bossy's Islanders on March 30, 1980. Let the record show that I scored my second and final goal in the NHL that night. "Boss" did not score a goal that particular night but did have an assist and the Islanders beat us at Le Coliseé, 9-6.

The thing about Boss, as spectacular as his scoring totals (573 goals) and total points (1,126) were, when you realize that his career prematurely ended at age 30 and he only played 752 career NHL regular season games it becomes clear that he was truly in the most elite tier of goal scorers in NHL history. Both he and Lafleur had tremendous shot releases.

I once asked Mike how he could, time after time, score goals with such uncanny accuracy. How did he always seem to hit the twine. He replied, "I don't shoot for a particular spot, ever. I can see the net and I just shoot to put it in net."

That would explain why Boss rarely shot the puck over or wide of the net. Pucks didn't careen off the boards and rim out very often at all when he shot. In my own case, I didn't shoot for a spot, either -- because I couldn't hit it if I tried. I was just happy if the goalie had to make a save. The couple that went in for me in the WHA and NHL were a sheer bonus.

Rest in peace, Flower and Boss.


A 2018 inductee into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Paul Stewart holds the distinction of being the first U.S.-born citizen to make it to the NHL as both a player and referee. On March 15, 2003, he became the first American-born referee to officiate in 1,000 NHL games.

Visit Paul's official websites, YaWannaGo.com and Officiating by Stewart
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