Guy Lapointe set new standards for NHL defensemen during his 16-year NHL career. Although he played for the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins, he spent most of his time in the league with the Montreal Canadiens, and it was with the Habs that he established himself as a member of the team's "Big Three" defensive specialists. Along with Larry Robinson and Serge Savard, he played a major role in the Canadiens' winning the Stanley Cups six times during his time with the team.
He played his junior hockey with Maisonneuve, Verdun and the Montreal Junior Canadiens. He then became a professional in 1968-69, signing on as player with the Houston Apollos of the Central Hockey League before moving on to the Montreal Voyageurs of the AHL the following year. He joined the Canadiens in 1970-71, and although Habs management loved his obvious potential, they were a little unsure of his steadiness in the pro game.
But Lapointe overcame this youthful inconsistency and quickly established himself as one of the game's all-time great defensemen. He was a solid checker and opposing goalies feared his slapshot, which was particularly effective on the Habs' lethal powerplay. Being a solid two-way player was something he worked hard on throughout his career.
Near the start of his NHL career, Lapointe was chosen to play in the historic 1972 Summit Series against the USSR. He also competed internationally for Canada in the 1976 Canada Cup and the 1979 Challenge Cup against the Soviets, which replaced that year's All-Star Game.
In 1982 Montreal traded Lapointe to St. Louis. He had been unhappy because of dwindling ice time with the Canadiens but realized that the Habs had a group of up-and-coming defensemen. "I think Montreal traded me not because Guy Lapointe asked for it, but for the good of the team," he said. "We've got six good defensemen who can do the job and one more in the minors. So I think it is a good time for me to leave. And I think that Montreal is going to have good memories of Guy Lapointe because I was playing good hockey. It's better to leave now than wait until I'm in my decline and people start to boo me," he said, in reference to the Montreal fans' treatment of his co-defensive stalwart Serge Savard in his final, lesser years with the team. Lapointe had also suffered a serious eye injury that many observers felt had slowed him down.
In his first year with the Blues, Lapointe broke his cheekbone and played only 50 games. The next season he signed with Boston as the Bruins tried to replace their star defenseman, Brad Park. For his part, Lapointe was anxious to show fans that the eye and face injuries of previous years wouldn't slow him down.
Lapointe went on to become general manager of the Longueuil Chevaliers of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, then an assistant coach with the Quebec Nordiques and later a scout with the Calgary Flames. When the Minnesota Wild joined the NHL, Lapointe was hired as the franchise's Chief Amateur Scout.
Guy Lapointe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993. In 2014, his number 5 was retired by the Montreal Canadiens, an honour he shares with Bernie Geoffrion.