Canadiens legend Lafleur slams Pacioretty, Vanek after loss in Conference Final

Jun 4, 10:37 AM

Montreal Canadiens legend and five-time Stanley Cup winner Guy Lafleur wasn't mincing words after witnessing his old team's loss to the New York Rangers in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, telling La Presse it looked "as if everyone had given up" in a series-deciding 1-0 loss in Game 6. 

Added Lafleur: "You do not play hockey for good seasons. You play to win the Stanley Cup," and called out two players in particular: "Guys like (Thomas) Vanek and (Max) Pacioretty, you can not keep that in your team. They stay home if they are not willing to pay the price. Your team will never win with players like that that fade when there is adversity."

While Vanek is likely to move on as an unrestricted free agent, Pacioretty - who scored five goals in 17 playoff games after recording a career-high 39 in the regular season - remains under contract for five more seasons and is seen as a cornerstone forward in Montreal.

Lafleur added he was impressed with the play of Dustin Tokarski, and does not consider the change in net necessitated by an injury to Carey Price to have been a deciding factor in the series.

In 128 career playoff games, Lafleur scored 58 goals and added 76 assists.

Jun 5, 9:58 AM

Canadiens legend Lafleur softens criticism of Pacioretty, still puzzled by Vanek

Jun 5, 9:58 AM

Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur expanded on his comments criticizing the playoff effort of Max Pacioretty and Thomas Vanek, softening his assessment of Pacioretty but remaining perplexed by Vanek's effort.

“The Canadiens have some good young players, and a guy like Pacioretty got some more experience,” Lafleur told reporters at the Guy Lafleur Awards of Excellence presentation on Wednesday. “He played more games in the playoffs and he’ll come back next year and I’m sure he’ll play differently in the playoffs.”

Lafleur acknowledged Pacioretty's strong season but says the expectation will be there from now on for him to keep scoring in the playoffs.

"In our day, Jimmy Roberts or Rick Chartraw used to score some big goals and when you’re on the bench watching these guys you know you have to do something," he said. "Maybe (they needed) more effort. I’m not saying Max played bad, but he didn’t play to his potential."

Lafleur feels Vanek - a pending free agent - should have gone "through the boards" trying to earn his next contract, pointing to young Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher as an example of the effort Vanek should have shown.

"I was watching the game at home and I was getting pissed off. I was mad. I don’t understand it," Lafleur said. "If I’m a player today and I’m playing out my option, I’d go through the boards to get $2 or $3 million more. At least get all the good things on your side to use when you negotiate a new contract."

Vanek, 30, will be looking for a new contract as an unrestricted free agent after earning $50 million over the last seven seasons.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/Bruce Fedyck