Jean Beliveau – R.I.P.

jean beliveauJean Béliveau, the legendary Montreal Canadiens hockey centreman, died Tuesday night at the age of 83.

Jean Béliveau captained the Canadiens from 1961 until his retirement in 1971, making him the longest-serving captain in franchise history.

His No. 4 jersey was retired by the Canadiens on October 9, 1971 (also Guy Lafleur’s first NHL game)

He was signed on Oct. 3, 1953 to a five-year, $105,000 contract, at the time the most generous pact in the National Hockey League.

The 6-foot-3, 205-pound centreman missed the playoffs just once in his 18 seasons, his second-last year in the NHL, and appeared in 13 All-Star Games.

His name appears on the Stanley Cup a record 17 times, having won seven championships during 22 post-playing years as the Canadiens’ senior vice-president of corporate affairs.

Current NHL records:

  • Most Stanley Cups, combined player or non-player: 17 (10 as player [1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971], 7 as executive [1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993] and the next-closest is Scotty Bowman, who has 13)
  • Most Stanley Cups as team captain: 5 (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971)
  • Fastest game-winning goal in regulation time of a playoff game: 14 seconds (May 1, 1965)
  • Tied for most assists in one period of a playoff game: 3 (he did it twice, has happened 86 times in history)

Achievements & Honours:

  • 13 All-Star games: 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1963, 1964 (MVP), 1965, 1968, 1969 (Note: Did not play in 1967 all-star game due to injury)
  • Led league in goals twice: 1955-56, 1958-89
  • Led league (or tied for league lead) in assists twice: 1960-61, 1965-66
  • Led playoffs in points once: 1955-56
  • Now 39th in goals: 507
  • Now Tied for 49th in assists: 712
  • Now 39th in points: 1,219
  • Now 10th in playoff goals: 79
  • Became 2nd player to record 1,000th career point (Gordie Howe was the only one to do it before him)
  • Became 4th player to record 500th career goal (Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull were the only ones to do it before him)

Notable Canadiens team records/ranks:

  • Tied for most seasons: 20 (Henri Richard tied him in 1974-75)
  • Tied for most seasons as captain: 10 (Saku Koivu tied him in 1999-00)
  • Most power-play goals: 171
  • Most playoff points: 176
  • Most goals by a centre: 507
  • Most assists by a centre: 712
  • Most points by a centre: 1,219
  • Became 1st in team history to record 1,000th career point
  • Became 1st player in history to play 1,000th career game with team
  • Became 2nd player in team history to record 500th career goals (Maurice Richard was the only Canadien to do it before him)

Quotes re Jean Beliveau

  • “It is hard, but I will play no more. I only hope I have made a contribution to a great game.” – Jean Beliveau on April 9, 1971, announcing his retirement after having led his team to the Stanley Cup
  • “Everything I achieved throughout my career, and all the rewards that followed, came as the results of team effort. If they say anything about me when I’m gone, let them say that I was a team man. To me, there is no higher compliment.” – Jean Beliveau
  • “Loyalty is another form of responsibility… Your good name is your greatest asset.” – Arthur Béliveau, Jean’s father
  • “There ought to be two leagues: one for the pros and one for Jean.” – Dollard St. Laurent, 1950’s teammate
  • “I admire John not just because of his great, great ability as a hockey player, but for his demeanour in public. He’s a complete gentleman.” – Gordie Howe
  • “I don’t think there can be any other figure in the history of professional team sports who better exemplifies the word ‘winner.'” – Wayne Gretzky
  • “Jean led our team with his presence. That’s all he needed. Jean was a great, great leader.” – Dickie Moore, teammate
  • “Jean Beliveau played on instinct, incredible instinct. He would control the centre of the ice and knew how to create space for himself. If you cut and were open, he’d get you the puck. He had size, strength, reach. He could really shoot the puck and he was tougher than you might remember. If you got close to him, you got a crosscheck. It was a treat to play with him, a treat to watch him play. And he had time for everybody. No matter who it was. No matter what the situation was.” – Dick Duff, teammate
  • “The Rocket and Mr. Béliveau come to my mind as the faces of the Canadiens and their Stanley Cups. Mr. Béliveau was a legend as a player and he was such a class act as a human being, an ambassador for the game and the Canadiens. The players felt, and I know the fans felt the same way, that when he walked in the room or into the building, the whole place went quiet just because of his presence.” – Saku Koivu, Canadiens long serving captain
  • “In old clips, most of us look dated. Jean, so big, so graceful and forceful, looks timeless, as at home in today’s game as he was in his prime — a bigger, more forceful Jonathan Toews, perhaps.” – Ken Dryden, Canadiens star goalie
  • “For all the accomplishments he achieved and all the accolades he received, Jean Béliveau was always the epitome of the boy whose only dream was to play for the Montreal Canadiens. Hockey is better because that dream was realized.” – Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner
  • “Even today, nearly 40 years after his retirement, Jean Beliveau is greeted with the same reverence wherever he goes. He inspires in others the same love for hockey that always has been his trademark — and always will be.” – Gary Bettman
  • “John was an entertaining, unselfish, tremendous player with the ability to set up goals at will. As much as I’ve talked about him through the years, I’ve never had anyone say a darned thing bad about him. We didn’t play on the same team but I consider John my friend. And that makes me a better man.” – Gordie Howe

SOURCES and great reads on the legend:
National Post
Sun News
NHL Obituary
Ken Dryden, special to the Toronto Star
SportsNet statistics

Jean Beliveau_credit Michael Barera

 

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