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Guy Lapointe to have Canadiens jersey retired on Saturday night

11/07/2014 05:27 EST | Updated 01/07/2015 05:59 EST
MONTREAL - Guy Lapointe knows who he'll be thinking of as the Montreal Canadiens retire his No. 5 jersey on Saturday night.

First his father Gerard, and then his former teammates and mentor Claude Ruel, the Habs coach when Lapointe broke into the National Hockey League in 1970-71.

''I've been thinking about this every day ever since (Canadiens owner) Geoff Molson told me about it in June,'' said Lapointe.

Lapointe's will be the 18th Habs jersey to be retired and marks the last of the Big Three defencemen from the Habs' juggernaut team of the 1970s to get the honour — Serge Savard's No. 18 was retired in 2006 and Larry Robinson's No. 19 in 2007.

''I'm happy he's being honoured 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 the Minnesota Wild, where Lapointe has been a scout 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 honour 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.

"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 someone who used to love driving forward into the other team's zone.

"It was, 'get out of the way.' He had such acceleration and a powerful shot."

When Lapointe cracked the NHL, he was able to play with boyhood idol Jean Beliveau.

In fact, 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," said Savard. "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 the Boston Bruins before ending his stellar career in 1984. His final tally: 622 points, including 171 goals, in 894 games.

Lapointe, 66, also represented Canada in the thrilling Summit Series against the Soviet Union in 1972 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

He was known for his pranks, including cutting laces and underwear, putting shaving cream in skates and slipping ketchup into shoes.

"He likes having fun and spreading it," said Houle.

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