Thousands pay tribute to Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur lying in state at Montreal's Bell Centre

Thousands of Quebecers came to Montreal's hockey cathedral on Sunday to pay their last respects to Guy Lafleur, a man who made Canadiens fans proud with his on-ice exploits and off-ice generosity.

The Bell Centre was transformed into funeral chapel for two days, to allow those who wished to do so to say goodbye to one of the greatest hockey legends and to offer their condolences to his family.

People wishing to pay their last respects to the famous hockey player are invited to go to the main entrance until 8 p.m.

Two large banners surrounded the one usually installed in the upper part of the arena with Lafleur's no. 10.

The Stanley Cup, which Lafleur won five times with the Montreal Canadiens, shone in the background of the coffin. The Hart, Art-Ross, Conn-Smythe and Ted-Lindsay trophies sat on one side, while the family sat on the other.

Quebec Premier Francois Legault and Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante were among the first to offer their condolences to the Lafleur family.

They spoke of the pride of Quebecers in seeing Lafleur dominate the NHL and become the best hockey player in the world for a few seasons. They also spoke of Lafleur's outspokenness and generosity.

Former teammates of Lafleur also walked through the chapel. Current Canadiens players were expected to drop by later in the afternoon. 

Tens of thousands are expected to walk past Lafleur's casket over the next two days.

A second day of viewing is scheduled for tomorrow from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Afterwards, a national funeral will be held Tuesday morning at the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal.

Guy Lafleur passed away on April 22 at the age of 70 from lung cancer. 

-- with files from CTV News Montreal.


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