At the request of his family, the Montreal Canadiens announced Wednesday that former defenceman and Hall of Famer Guy Lapointe has been diagnosed with oral cancer.

"Dr. Keith Richardson, the treating physician from the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC), indicated that the cancer is located at the base of the tongue," read a team statement "Lapointe will begin his treatments in the coming weeks. This form of cancer has a high cure rate.

"The family wishes to thank the personnel at the MUHC as well as all hockey fans and asks for respect of their privacy as they face this challenge."

Lapointe, 71, played 777 games with the Canadiens, scoring 166 goals and adding 406 assists for 572 points.

He also played for the St. Louis Blues and the Boston Bruins, tallying 171 goals and 622 points in 894 games.

Lapointe also represented Canada in the Summit Series against the Soviet Union in 1972 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1993.

In 2014, his No. 5 was the 18th Canadiens sweater to be retired and the last of the Big Three defencemen from the Habs' juggernaut team of the 1970s to receive the honour - Serge Savard's No. 18 was retired in 2006 and Larry Robinson's No. 19 in 2007.