While this may be a story familiar to older fans of the game, I must admit that upon first hearing this I was absolutely stunned by the knowledge that something like this had transpired.
In a recent video for Sportsnet, National Hockey League legend Guy Lafleur laid out the story of an absolutely mind-boggling plot that took place in 1976, a plot who's end goal was to eventually kidnap the Montreal Canadiens superstar in the hopes that his absence would cause a Habs loss in the postseason.
According to Lafleur the plot was created by "a bunch of gamblers" who wanted him to "miss the playoffs" presumably because they had bet heavily on the opposition in this series. How heavily? Well the men suspected of plotting the kidnapping of Lafleur where believed to be the men who where behind a massive and daring $3 million dollar robbery in Montreal's Old Port on March 30th, so these where some very serious characters.
Luckily for Lafleur and the Canadiens, an informant revealed that the kidnapping plot was underway, and furthermore revealed the fact that it was somehow connected to the robbery that occurred in March of that year. This resulted in another NHL legend having to get involved, when the late great Jean Beliveau who was vice-president of the Canadiens at the time, became the liaison between law enforcement and the team.
The league and the Canadiens then placed Lafleur, his family and his home under 24/7 guard, but Lafleur was given two options moving forward. Either he could choose to remain under guard and continue playing hockey or he could flee somewhere to the south in order to get away from all of this. For Lafleur however it was never a question, he was going to continue playing hockey.
Lafleur played throughout the entire postseason, with his family under armed guard at a hotel, and with himself under constant surveillance from law enforcement, and understandably his performance declined as a result of the immense pressure.
The Montreal media was not kind to Lafleur as his performance dropped, but in their defense the attempted kidnapping plot had been kept secret from just about everyone prior to the suspects being arrested later down the line.
Despite what must have been some of the most difficult circumstances in NHL history, Lafleur would lead his Canadiens to the Stanley Cup Championship in 1976, defeating the Philadelphia Flyer's to hoist hockey's holy grail.
You can watch the video detailing the story behind this incident here, and we highly recommend that you do.