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Remembering Jean Beliveau

note- original post was 8:04am 12/3/14, bringing to top of page for all to see.

I will be adding to this post throughout the day... 10:15am, post has been updated numerous times, below the jump... and even more added.. another update at 2:06pm... now 2:23pm... as of 4:35pm, 13 updated to this post...


from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

Jean Beliveau batted .500 in the most impressive hockey category of all: 10 Stanley Cups in 20 seasons.

But he batted a thousand where it mattered most.

"What a wonderful person," fellow Habs legend and former teammate Dickie Moore told ESPN.com a few years ago. "All these years, he's always thought about everyone else but himself. That's Jean Beliveau."

Beliveau died Tuesday night. He was 83.

No classier human being has ever laced them up in the 97-year history of the NHL. His talent was all-world, but it was his humble demeanor that will forever be remembered.

"He was, in every way, a one-of-a-kind player, matched only by his grace and quality as a human being," wrote the great Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette.

continued

A video tribute to Jean Beliveau from Stephen Brunt of Sportsnet,

from Gare Joyce of Sportnet,

Many who soar suffer the vertigo of stars, sometimes manifesting in conceit and hostility, sometimes in insecurity and wariness. Béliveau was, as a man, utterly at ease with himself. He made being Jean Béliveau look like the greatest job in the world. Not just when he made the Canadiens, but going right back to his youth in Victoriaville.

"I remember very clearly listening to the radio when Maurice Richard scored 50 goals in 50 games," he said. "The next morning on that little ice surface while we were playing our shinny games, we were ‘broadcasting’ the game. One player was Maurice and another one—usually me, because I always played centre—was Elmer Lach. I’ve always felt that Maurice showed us that, if you really desire something, if you work at it, it’s possible for any Quebecker to make a career in hockey."

Béliveau wanted to tell his life story so that he could give credit where he thought credit was due. It wasn’t simply Richard blazing a trail for him. Béliveau gave full credit for his wonderful life to his family. In contrast to recent generations’ involved (and over-involved) parents, the Béliveaus knew that their son would do well on his own if he stuck to basic guiding principles in his career and life.

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from Bruce Weber of the New York Times,

With a naturally long stride and deceptive speed, the stick-handling finesse of a wizard and the solidity and strength to fend off checks, Béliveau was on anyone’s short list of the greatest centers to play in the National Hockey League, and perhaps the greatest before the era that brought Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.

He played in 14 N.H.L. All-Star Games and was named the league’s first-team All-Star center six times. He twice won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. In 1965, after the Canadiens defeated the Chicago Black Hawks to capture the Stanley Cup, Béliveau was awarded the first Conn Smythe Trophy, from then on given annually to the most valuable player in the playoffs.

Béliveau was more than a shooter, although with a potent backhand and accurate wrist shot he led the N.H.L. twice in goals, scoring 507 in his career. He was the quintessential team leader, recognized league-wide for his competitiveness and composure and an astonishing range of skills. An expert at controlling and distributing the puck — he also led the league twice in assists — he was in general the kind of player around which any given game revolved and whose presence on the ice made his teammates better.

read on

added 8:08am, A tribute video from the Montreal Canadiens...

 

 

added 8:45am, The Globe and Mail with a collection of tweets on Beliveau.

added 8:50am, from Steve Dryden of TSN,

Hero worship is unbecoming for a man of 56 years. But until December 2, 2014, Jean Beliveau was my idol. The last icon from a childhood in Montreal.

Now he is gone and so is a connection to 1950s and 1960s Quebec, where Beliveau ruled hockey with a dignity and elegance never before seen and never seen since. It wasn't that he seemed larger than life. He was. Monsieur Beliveau - that is what he was called, never by the familiar Jean, by those in the Canadiens' family - was without flaw. He was Le Gros Bill, a man of mythical stature. Of course, he could not have been perfect but we believed he was.

As The Hockey News wrote: "Regal on the ice, humble and diplomatic away from the rink, Beliveau made red, white and blue the colours of hockey royalty."

continued

added 9:28am, from Stu Hackel of The Hockey News,

In the days when the highest compliment in hockey was to say someone had “class,” no one had more class than the majestic Jean Béliveau. With his death Tuesday at age 83, hockey has lost not only one of its greatest all-time players, but perhaps its greatest-ever team leader and public ambassador.

continued

For some great memories and photos of Jean Beliveau, make sure to follow Dave Stubbs on Twitter.

added 10:15am, from Mike Ulmer at TSN,

At six-foot-three, Beliveau had every gift that could be bestowed on a hockey player.

"He was one of a kind, a classic," Hall of Famer Ranger Rod Gilbert once observed. "Jean Beliveau was probably the best player ever in the NHL. He was a typical centreman with lanky strides and vision to both sides. You talk about Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Beliveau was as good as them in our time."

The best stickhandler of his generation, Beliveau leveraged a small man's skills: agility, imagination, into a package that had not existed before his widely-heralded debut with the Canadiens. He was a giant, Le Gros Bill, a player whose elegance outstripped even his own top-drawer skills.

Consider this for a moment. Like Joe DiMaggio, who won nine World Series and is lionized for the way he carried himself, the unquantifiable elements of how Beliveau looked – graceful, confident - dwarfed one of the greatest records in hockey history.

The New York Yankees are the dominant personality in baseball because Babe Ruth's colorful, reckless genius was followed by DiMaggio's seemingly effortless grace. Ruth was a simple man, often a vulgar primitive whose greatness shaped the game into a business. DiMaggio, courted as assiduously by the Yankees as Beliveau was pursued by the Canadiens, gave the Yankees mystique and existed as a counterpoint to the raw emotion delivered by Ruth. 

The Canadians thrived on a similar dynamic.

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added 11:59am, from Rob Sinclair of CBC,

Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Béliveau has passed away at the age of 83, the NHL team announced Tuesday night.

He won 10 Stanley Cups as a player and earned the nickname Le Gros Bill​ (after a Quebec folk hero), but both on and off the ice Béliveau was better known for his skill, sportsmanship and a gentlemanly air that very nearly made him Canada's Governor General in 1994.

At the time, his recurring heart problems and concern for his recently widowed daughter and her small children kept him from accepting the offer.

"Like millions of hockey fans who followed the life and the career of Jean Beliveau, the Canadiens today mourn the passing of a man whose contribution to the development of our sport and our society was unmeasurable," team owner Geoff Molson said in a statement posted on the Canadiens' website.

"Jean Beliveau was a great leader, a gentleman and arguably the greatest ambassador our game has ever known," Molson added.

continued

added 12:09pm, from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,

“Meeting him is not like meeting other stars from the old days,” Béliveau's former linemate, Gilles Tremblay, said. “When people see Bobby Hull, they say: 'Hi Bobby.' When they meet Big Jean, it's always: 'Hi, Mr. Béliveau.' He commands respect.”

That's exactly the way it was with Béliveau. He was one of the rare people who truly had presence. When he walked into a room you sensed it. When you met him or spoke with him, you knew you were with someone special. He was a giant of a man and he cut an imposing figure on the ice, but it was something else, something inside, that made him larger than life.

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added 12:39pm,

DENVER – Here are statements issued today by Executive Vice President/General Manager Joe Sakic and Head Coach/Vice President of Hockey Operations Patrick Roy.

Avalanche Executive Vice President/General Manager Joe Sakic:

"Jean Béliveau is a true legend of the game and always represented the sport with unbelievable class. Our thoughts are with the Béliveau family, his friends, the Montreal Canadiens and everyone he touched during his remarkable life, both on the ice and away from the rink. He was a great ambassador for the game of hockey and will be dearly missed."

Avalanche Head Coach/Vice President of Hockey Operations Patrick Roy:

"With his extraordinary talent and classy personality, Jean Béliveau not only became a hockey legend, but also a role model who will remain closely and forever linked to both Quebec and Canadian history.

"Personally, I will cherish the unbelievable memories of my meetings with him and will remember them forever."

added 12:53pm, from Serge Touchette at NHL.com,

It was in 2002 at a hotel in Los Angeles, the day before the NHL All-Star Game, and some of the game's legends were taking their turn entering a reception hall.

I was speaking to Ted Lindsay, the Detroit Red Wings great, when Jean Beliveau, dressed to the nines, made his appearance.

All of a sudden the room went silent and everyone, without exception, turned their attention toward him.

It was as if time had stopped.

"For me," Lindsay said that day, "Jean Beliveau is, and always will be, the Pope of Hockey."

The Pope of Hockey died Tuesday. He was 83.

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added 1:23pm, Dick Irvin on Jean Beliveau,

 

 

added 2:06pm, Wayne Gretzky on Jean Believeau,

 

 

added 2:23pm, The retired Red Fisher on Beliveau at the Montreal Gazette,

Was there ever a player blessed with more grace on and off the ice, a quiet leader who led by example? He walked tall, skated taller — and this one-of-a-kind man, who passed away on Tuesday, always will be remembered that way.

Ask anyone who knew Béliveau of what his life and NHL career has meant to all of us, and they would begin with what he brought to the Canadiens and to the game wherever it was played.

They would use words such as achievement and team. Leadership. Caring. Class. He had an aura about him unmatched by any of the great stars who played before him — or since.

continued

added 4:02pm, from the NHLPA,

“Jean Beliveau was simply put, an amazing man and I feel very honoured to have had the opportunity to get to know him during my time playing for the Canadiens. It always made me smile when I was playing in Montreal to see him in the stands at the Forum, or in the hallway by the dressing rooms in the Bell Centre,” said Mathieu Schneider, NHLPA Special Assistant to the Executive Director. “When you were around Mr. Beliveau, you knew you were in the presence of greatness.”

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added 4:33pm, from Bill Beacon of the CP at the Winnipeg Free Press,

Tributes poured in from around the hockey world and from political leaders after the Canadiens announced that perhaps their best player ever, and certainly their greatest captain, had died.

"Beyond being one of the greatest players in NHL history, Jean Beliveau was class personified," said Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson. "He was a hero to generations of his fellow French Canadians and hockey fans everywhere. Our sport has lost a great ambassador."

Flags were lowered to half-mast at the Quebec National Assembly and at Montreal city hall while the hockey great was honoured in the House of Commons.

Highlights and reminiscences from fans and Beliveau's former teammates and opponents dominated newscasts. At an arena named after him in Longueuil, Que., the suburb where Beliveau and his family lived for more than 50 years, fans brought flowers to his statue, and one put a Canadiens scarf around its neck.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jean+beliveau

Comments

SYF's avatar

Saw some old vids on youtube of the “Legends of Hockey” series and I was impressed with truly how smooth Beliveau’s skating was back then.

RIP, Monsieur Beliveau.

Posted by SYF from impossible and oddly communally possessive sluts on 12/03/14 at 06:10 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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