The hockey world lost a giant on Tuesday night in the death of Jean Beliveau, the Hall of Famer center for the Montreal Canadiens. His 83 years were spent being the epitome of class, kindness and respect. Few can claim to have had the impact and success that Beliveau had during his career.
Here are four clips that cover different aspects of his career and impact:
1. Biography Channel: Legends of Hockey
Here is your Jean Beliveau primer: a well-done documentary on his life and his career, with plenty of engaging interviews with the Montreal Canadiens legend. Guy LeFleur, saying he patterned his game after Beliveau! That’s so cool.
2. To Tell The Truth (1957)
Oh, this is just fun. In 1957, Beliveau appeared on “To Tell The Truth,” a classic game show in which celebrity panelists attempt to choose which one of three potential “Jean Beliveau’s” was the actual Jean Beliveau. He was a six-year NHL veteran at this point. SPOILER: He didn’t do so badly.
3. No. 500 For No. 4
In Feb. 1971, Beliveau scored his final NHL hat trick. In the process, he became only the fourth player in NHL history to crack the 500 goal ceiling. It was a the precursor to a magical end to his career, in which he won the Stanley Cup for the 10th time and his fifth as a captain.
Best of all is this story from Habs Eyes On The Prize, about a meeting between the legend and Gilles Gilbert, the rookie goalie that he victimized for the hatty:
Gilbert mentions that he met his parents in a specific area of the Forum after the game. "Then I saw Jean Béliveau. I thought, ‘what is he doing here?’ I think I’ve seen enough of him tonight. He came up to me and, almost apologetically, told me that it didn’t matter who would have been in net tonight, it was a night where everything went his way. He told me that I would have a long and successful career in the NHL, gave me his hand, and left. It’s special. I don’t think anybody else would have done that."
Jean Beliveau then says that he knew Gilles Gilbert because his father was a great hockey fan in Quebec City. "Apologize? No,...when you have an opportunity, you have to try and capitalize," mentions Beliveau, who would reach the 700 assists and 1200 points milestones on February 20th 1971, in a 7-1 Canadiens win over the Chicago Blackhawks at the Forum.
4. Finally, Gordie and Jean
Obviously a bittersweet one given the events of the last week, but here’s Gordie Howe introducing “one of the greatest players I ever faced” in Jean Beliveau. It’s heartfelt and lovely, one legend honoring the other, holding up his Montreal Canadiens sweater like an ancient shroud.
What an ovation. What a man. What a loss.