The world of professional hockey and the Brownsburg-Chatham community received some sad news late in the afternoon of May 18.
Lachute-born and Brownsburg-raised defenceman Gilles Lupien has died of cancer at age 67. The announcement was made public by Lupien’s son Erik on Twitter.
Gilles Lupien’s junior and professional hockey career spanned from 1971 to 1982 in the NHL, American Hockey League, QMJHL, and the Atlantic Hockey League. Lupien played for the Montréal Canadiens from 1974 to 1980.
“A man of exceptional righteousness. Dad, we love you,” said Erik Lupien’s message.
According to a news release from the Canadiens and the NHL, Gilles Lupien had been involved in hockey for close to 50 years, first as a player and, following his retirement, as an advisor and player agent. He also owned a fast-food franchise.
With his 6-foot, 6-inch frame, Lupien hardly went unnoticed wherever he went, especially in the corners where his opponents feared his solid hits.
The Canadiens statement described Lupien as a “people person” and people around him enjoyed his good spirits and straight talk. He was only 17 when he made his QMJHL debuts with the Québec Remparts before moving to the Sherbrooke Castors and the Montréal Bleu Blanc Rouge. He made the jump to professional hockey in 1974-1975 with the Canadiens AHL affiliate, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs.
The statement described Lupien as an honest player who respected his opponents. “He was a gentle giant, that is unless the opponents started taking liberties with some of his teammates at which time they would have to deal with “Loupie”. He was known to be Guy Lafleur’s bodyguard.
A second-round selection of the Canadiens in the 1974 NHL Entry Draft, Lupien enjoyed a successful professional hockey career winning the Calder Cup twice with the Voyageurs, in 1976 and 1977, before etching his name on the Stanley Cup as a member of the Canadiens in 1978 and 1979.
Following his time with the Montréal Canadiens, Lupien played for the Hartford Whalers and Binghamton Whalers until leaving professional play in 1982.
In 1996 he founded an agency to provide advice, assistance and guidance to young hockey players and help set their careers, and financial futures, on the right path. The NHL/Canadiens release stated that as a player, Lupien was respectful and trustworthy, and as an agent he retained these qualities that made him. When negotiating with the club representatives, he was known to be straightforward and considered as one of the best agents in the business. Over his 25 years as a player agent, he helped countless young Québec hockey players make their way to the NHL and manage their career and assets.
Gilles Lupien is survived by his daughters Jennifer and Catherine, his son Erik, his grandchildren Izac, Evan, Maelle, Charles and Livia, as well as numerous friends and former teammates.
The family would like to thank everyone for their heartfelt condolences and kindly requests that its privacy be respected during this time of grief.
In 1985, the arena in Brownsburg was named the Arena Gilles-Lupien. On May 18, the Ville de Brownsburg-Chatham released a short statement offering condolences to the family of Gilles Lupien on behalf of the council and citizens of his hometown.