Remembering a Hockey Legend

Earlier this week we lost a hockey legend, Jean Béliveau.  Can I introduce you to him?

He was born on August 31, 1931 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.  He died on December 2, 2014 at the age of 83, in Longueuil, Quebec.

Photo of Jean Béliveau
Hockey legend Jean Béliveau

He was a professional Canadian ice hockey player who played parts of 20 seasons with the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Montreal Canadiens from 1950 to 1971. He began to play professionally in the Quebec Major Hockey League (QMHL). He made his NHL début with the Canadiens in 1950, but chose to stay in the QMHL full-time until 1953. By his second season in the NHL, Béliveau was among the top three scorers. He was the fourth player to score 500 goals and the second to score 1,000 points. Béliveau won two Hart Memorial Trophies (1956, 1964) and one Art Ross Memorial Trophy (1956), as well as the inaugural Conn Smythe Trophy (1965). As a player, he won the Stanley Cup 10 times, and as an executive he was part of another seven championship teams, the most Stanley Cup victories by an individual to date. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Nicknamed “Le Gros Bill” (The Big Bill), Béliveau ranks among the ten greatest NHL players.

Interestingly, Béliveau can trace his ancestry to Antoine Béliveau, who settled in 1642 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia. The Béliveaus were expelled along with the Acadians in 1755 and the family settled in the Boston area before moving to Québec to the Trois Rivières area in the mid-19th century.

He suffered from many ailments for decades now.  He’s suffered two strokes, and was diagnosed with cancer (he recovered after a punishing course of treatments).

Another defining moment in his life, Prime Minister Jean Chretien offered Béliveau the position of Governor General of Canada in 1994.  However, he declined the offer to be with his daughter, Hélène, and two grandchildren, Mylene and Magalie. Their father, a Quebec police officer, committed suicide when the girls were five and three.

Of many legacies he leaves behind, one of the greatest (I think) is the charitable Jean Béliveau Foundation, established in 1971. In 1993, Béliveau transferred the foundation to the Society for Disabled Children.

We have missed him on the ice and admired him for his steadfast vigour for living life to its fullest.  Thoughts and prayers for his family, friends and fans.

16 comments

  1. I first met him at the Quebec Society for Disabled Children’s summer camp when I was 5 (over 50 years ago). I remember him as a gentle, soft spoken giant. Being an avid Canadiens fan, I followed his on-ice career, but continued to be impressed by his humble generosity throughout the years. Merci Jean

    Liked by 1 person

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