Thousands of fans lined up for hours outside the Bell Centre to share stories, pay their respects to the Lafleur family, and say one last goodbye to the hockey icon.
Guy Lafleur, who helped the Canadiens win five Stanley cups in the 1970’s, died of cancer on April 22. He was 70 years old.
A national funeral will be held on Tuesday at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral where archbishop Christian Lépine will preside.
“He wanted to be on the same ground, he didn’t want to be over the people, he wanted to be with them,” said Lépine. “This funeral, is about being with the people. It’s the atmosphere that is very important,” he added.
Lépine never met Lafleur but said he learned a compelling lesson many years ago when the hockey great decided to make a comeback, playing with the New York Rangers.
“He could have let go, he could have said ‘Oh it won’t work, it’s too much, I’m too old’, but that’s not what he said,” noted Lépine. “Instead he had the courage to try, whatever people would say about him.”
The funeral is by invitation only. Lépine confirmed it is a changing list but former and current hockey players will attend and political figures will also be there, including Quebec Premier François Legault and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Preparations inside and outside Mary Queen of the World Cathedral are in full swing. The funeral is scheduled to begin at 11 am and the ceremony will be live streamed on the Global News website and streaming channels.
The neighbourhood around the cathedral will be off limits to traffic all morning. A fighter jet fly-by will mark the end of the funeral, weather permitting.