MONTREAL – With his son’s legal troubles seemingly at an end, Guy Lafleur’s attention will now turn to his own courtroom woes.
Mark Lafleur, the son of the Montreal hockey legend, was handed a 15-month conditional sentence on an array of charges including uttering death threats, forcible confinement and assault.
The younger Lafleur, 23, will have to live with strict conditions, including an initial six months of house arrest to be followed by driving, alcohol and drug restrictions as well as various curfews and three years’ probation once the sentence is complete.
His lawyer Mia Manocchio said Lafleur didn’t get off easy.
“What it means is if he breaches one of his conditions, he will be put back in jail to do the rest of his time,” said Manocchio.
“It’s not a done deal here, he’s not finished with this situation. In front of the court, however, we are.”
Meanwhile, Guy Lafleur, 57, returns to court next week where he faces an obstruction of justice charge for allegedly giving contradictory testimony at one of his son’s court appearances.
A judge will decide whether to throw out that case over the validity of the warrant that was issued.
Guy Lafleur has also filed a $3.5-million civil suit against the police and the Crown over his highly publicized arrest. The former player with the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques says the arrest ruined his credibility.
But the elder Lafleur, a sniper who played 17 seasons in the NHL between 1971 and 1991, kept the attention Thursday firmly focused on his son.
Quebec court Judge Serge Boisvert noted in his ruling that Guy Lafleur and his wife had done everything humanly possible to keep their son in check.
“We’re going to keep doing the same thing, try to put him back on the right track and give him all the help he needs to change,” Guy Lafleur said outside court.
Mark Lafleur was sentenced on 23 charges, including assault, dangerous driving, breaking conditions and cannabis production
Lafleur will also have to continue his therapy, which Boisvert said appears to be paying dividends.
Boisvert noted that being the son of the hockey icon created a media firestorm around his case that the otherwise unknown Mark Lafleur was unlikely to escape.
“Mark Lafleur is neither a public personality nor a star, but a damaged person who has to confront life with a negative notoriety, which makes his punishment more severe than for someone unknown,” Boisvert said.
The Crown had requested almost five years in prison while the defence had sought a suspended sentence for the younger Lafleur.
Boisvert wished Lafleur good luck and told him it is up to him if he wants to avoid ending up back in court.
Lafleur’s parents were in court for the sentencing and expressed relief their son had escaped jail time.
“I don’t think it’s the place for him after trying so hard to improve his quality of life and it would have been the wrong choice to put him back in jail,” Guy Lafleur said.
Many of the charges stem from a violent, tumultuous relationship Mark Lafleur had with a 14-year-old girl, who is now about 20.
“Honestly, no matter what, it’s not going to change what he did to me,” the female victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, told reporters.
“The scars will always be there.
“I just hope he never ends up doing it to someone else because no one deserves to go through that.”
Lafleur pleaded guilty to many of the charges last June, when two sexual-assault charges against him were dropped.
Crown prosecutor Sophie Lavergne said the sentence turns the page on a story of a young girl who was the victim of violence. Lavergne would not comment on the possibility of an appeal.
Guy Lafleur said his son is making good progress in therapy.
“So far, so good, he’s working hard at it and he’s doing well so far,” he said.