Thursday, March 4, 2010

March 4, 1981: Guy Lafleur reaches 1000 points

image Guy Lafleur became the fastest player to reach 1000 points on this day in 1981

For a few weeks in 1981, Marcel Dionne of the Los Angeles Kings held the NHL record for fastest player to reach 1000 points, doing so in 740 career games on January 7.

Then on March 4, the Montreal Canadiens Guy Lafleur broke that mark by 20 games during his team’s 9-3 romp over the dead-last Winnipeg Jets.

For Lafleur, who had already missed 22 games that season due to injuries, he may have thought it would be another 20 games for it to happen.

In light of the Canadiens riding a thirteen game unbeaten streak, and unbeaten in 19 at home, “Le Demon Blond” had been on a four-game scoring drought until that Wednesday night at the Forum.

“There was pressure, but I wasn’t really thinking about it (the record),” Lafleur said. “The last few games have been frustrating. I had chances to score and I was playing good hockey, but it’s frustrating when you can’t score. You start to get overanxious.”

He reached point No. 998 with an assist on Pierre Larouche’s opening goal in the first period and then notched No. 999, going top shelf past Jet’s goalie Michel Dion, just over four minute’s later.

The Canadiens would be up 8-0 after two periods. Lafleur would cash his own rebound past Dion for a second time at 0:54 of the third.

The milestone put him as just the third player in Canadiens history to reach 1000 points (Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard).

The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search The Canadiens shut down after that, allowing the Jets to score three goals in the third. Winnipeg would end Montreal’s 14-game unbeaten streak the next Saturday.

“Well now I don’t have to think about it anymore,” Lafleur said after the game. “I’m happy about it, but I’m not going to just lay back. I think I still have a few good years ahead of me. I’s proud of it, but I still have four or five years to play.

A few good years he would have, finishing with the Canadiens as the franchise’s all-time scoring leader with 1246 points and 1353 overall in the NHL.

Lafleur’s record for fastest player to reach the 1000 point mark would last just under three years, when Wayne Gretzky would break it by almost 300 games. Since then, four other players (all in the Hall of Fame) have reached it faster than Lafleur.

Doing some research, I came across this game photo from the Montreal Gazette/Canadian Press. Take a look at the fellow in the black jacket.

The Montreal Gazette - Google News Archive Search_a Isn’t that the young midget star who would go on to reach 1000 points in 512 games.???

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