Retired NHL hockey star Guy Lafleur poses with former Quebec Nordiques star Joe Sakic and NHL trophies he has won before playing his last game of oldtimers hockey in Quebec City, Sunday February 27, 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Clement Allard
QUEBEC - On the day Guy Lafleur played his last game, another NHL great spoke about the league's possible return to Quebec City.
Lafleur was overcome with emotion Sunday as he took one final lap around the Pepsi Colisee after an alumni game between Montreal Canadiens and Quebec Nordiques.
Quebec City was the final stop on the Hall of Fame right-winger's farewell tour.
"You have been a source of encouragement and motivation for me," Lafleur told the crowd. "And that is very important in the career of a player."
More than 11,000 fans were on hand to bid Lafleur adieu at a game that also featured Quebec Nordiques greats Peter, Anton and Marion Stasny, as well as Joe Sakic.
Sakic used the setting to make the case for the return of NHL hockey to the city.
"I hope it will work," he said. "Quebec is a great city and I hope it gets a team from the National Hockey League. It certainly deserves to have a new arena. When it is built, it will be a great place to play hockey."
Earlier this month, Quebec City announced it will move ahead with construction of a new NHL-style hockey arena—with or without any involvement from the federal government or private industry.
While the NHL has given no guarantee a team will return to the city, the provincial government and the city are proceeding with 50-50 funding arrangement to build the arena at a cost of $400 million.
Lafleur told the crowd his hockey days are over but that he will not disappear from public view.
Lafleur, who enjoyed his best years with the Montreal Canadiens but finished his career with the Nordiques, played for both teams Sunday.