Jean Béliveau

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Jean Béliveau
CC GOQ
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1972
Jean Béliveau 2009.jpg
Béliveau in 2009
Born (1931-08-31)August 31, 1931
Trois-Rivières, QC, CAN
Died December 2, 2014(2014-12-02) (aged 83)
Longueuil, QC, CAN
Height 6 ft 3 in (191 cm)
Weight 205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Montreal Canadiens
Playing career 1950–1971

Joseph Jean Arthur Béliveau, CC GOQ (August 31, 1931 – December 2, 2014) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player who played parts of 20 seasons with the National Hockey League's (NHL) Montreal Canadiens from 1950 to 1971. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972, "Le Gros Bill" Béliveau ranks among the ten greatest NHL players.[1] Born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Béliveau first played professionally in the Quebec Major Hockey League (QMHL). He made his NHL debut with the Canadiens in 1950, but chose to remain 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 as league MVP (1956, 1964) and one Art Ross Memorial Trophy as top scorer (1956), as well as the inaugural Conn Smythe Trophy as play-off MVP (1965). As a player, he played on 10 Stanley Cup winners, and as an executive he was part of another seven championship teams, the most Stanley Cup victories by an individual to date.

Early life[edit]

Jean Béliveau was born in 1931 to Arthur and Laurette Béliveau, the oldest of eight children. His family traces their ancestry to Antoine Béliveau, who settled in 1642 in Port Royal, Nova Scotia. Expelled along with the other Acadians in 1755, the Béliveaus settled in the Boston area before moving to the Trois Rivières area of Québec in the mid-19th century. Jean's father was also part of a large family, one of six brothers, many of whom moved to western Canada in the 1910s while others remained in the Trois-Rivières area and St. Célestin.[2] Jean's family moved to Victoriaville when Jean was six and Jean grew up in Victoriaville, attending L'École Saint-David, L'Académie Saint-Louis de Gonzague and Collège de Victoriaville schools.[3]

Like many future hockey players of the era, the Béliveau family had a backyard ice rink on which their children, friends and neighbours played shinny.[4] Until he was twelve years old, the family rink was where Jean learned to play hockey. His first organized team was in a house league at L'Académie, which played on the school's rink. As part of a squad of L'Académie 'all-stars', Jean played against other local teams. At age fifteen, he entered College and played for its team and an intermediate team, the Victoriaville Panthers.[5]

In the summertime as a child, Béliveau also played baseball. A stand-out in local leagues in Victoriaville, he pitched and occasionally played infield, well enough his family turned down an offer of a minor-league pro contract for Jean at age fifteen.[6] At sixteen, Jean played for the senior league team in Val-d'Or, Quebec.

Playing career[edit]

Béliveau was already a star at 15 when spotted by Canadiens general manager Frank Selke, who sought to sign him to an NHL "C-form". The standard league contract for young players at that time, it would have required Béliveau to join the Canadiens at a set date and agreed-upon salary.[7] When his father balked, Béliveau signed a "B-form" instead, agreeing to play for Montreal should he ever decide to turn pro.

Béliveau became a star in Quebec's amateur leagues, and was called up twice for brief appearances by the Canadiens in 1950–51 and 1952–53. He led the Quebec Senior Hockey League in scoring in 1953. However, he did not appear to show much interest in playing professionally. Finally, Selke got an idea—if the QSHL were somehow turned into a professional league, Béliveau would be a professional as well, and under the terms of the B-form he would have to sign with the Habs. At Selke's suggestion, the Canadiens bought the QSHL and converted it from an amateur league to a minor pro league. This forced Béliveau to join the Canadiens for the 1953–54 NHL season (though the Habs owned the NHL rights to all of the league's players in any case).[7]

Three years later, in 1956, Béliveau won both the Art Ross Memorial Trophy as the league's scoring champion and the Hart Memorial Trophy as its most valuable player. That year Béliveau also became the first hockey player ever to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated when his portrait graced the January 23rd issue.[1] During his 18 full seasons in Montreal, he played on 10 Stanley Cup winning teams 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971. For his last 10 seasons, he was the team captain. He was nicknamed "Le gros Bill" after the tall title character of a 1949 movie.[8][9]

A powerful skater, he had an air of composed confidence that made him a natural leader both on and off the ice. Admired and respected by fans, teammates and his opponents, he was the first player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for his performance in the 1965 Stanley Cup playoffs.[7] He is also the first and only captain to win the Conn Smythe and score the game-winning goal in the same night.

Béliveau retired at the end of the 1970–71 NHL season as his team's all-time leader in points, second all-time in goals and the NHL's all-time leading playoff scorer. He scored 507 goals and had 712 assists for 1,219 points in 1,125 NHL regular-season games plus 79 goals and 97 assists for 176 points in 162 playoff games.[10] His jersey number (#4) was retired on October 9, 1971. In 1972, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He is now the second all-time leading scorer in Canadiens history, behind Guy Lafleur. Only Henri Richard (1256 games) and Larry Robinson (1202 games) played more games for the Habs. Béliveau's name appears on the Stanley Cup a record seventeen times, including seven times as an executive for the Canadiens: 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1986, 1993.[11] In 1998, The Hockey News named Béliveau the seventh greatest NHL player of all time.[1] Upon his retirement, the Canadiens named Béliveau a vice president and director of public relations.[12]

Béliveau was never known as an activist during his playing days. However, he was one of several players who threatened to pull out of the Hall of Fame if disgraced ex-NHLPA executive director Alan Eagleson had been allowed to stay in after being convicted of fraud and embezzlement. He also supported the NHL's position during the 2004–05 NHL lockout, arguing that the players' demands would damage the sport and the league.

Personal life[edit]

Béliveau met his future wife, Elise Couture, in 1950 in Quebec City.[13] The couple married on June 27, 1953, at St. Patrick's Church there, and had one child together, daughter Hélène. In 1957, Beliveau appeared in full uniform on the American game show To Tell the Truth.[14]

Upon retiring as a player in 1971 Béliveau set up the charitable Jean Béliveau Foundation, transferred two decades later to the Society for Disabled Children in 1993. The following year Prime Minister Jean Chretien offered him the position of Governor General of Canada.[15] However, Béliveau declined in order to be with his daughter and two grandchildren, Mylene and Magalie, whose father, a Quebec policeman, had committed suicide when the girls were five and three.[16]

Beginning in the 1990s, Béliveau suffered from multiple health issues. He was first hospitalized for cardiac problems in 1996. In 2000, he was treated for a neck tumour. NHL.com reported on January 21, 2010, that Béliveau was admitted to Montréal General Hospital the previous evening with an apparent stroke that was not thought to be life-threatening. Béliveau was hospitalized with a stroke again on February 28, 2012.[17]

Béliveau died on December 2, 2014, at the age of 83, in Longueuil, a suburb of Montreal.[18][19]

Legacy[edit]

Béliveau was given many awards including several honorary doctorates from Canadian universities, plus the Loyola Medal in 1995. He was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1988, promoted to Officer in 2006 and Grand Officer in 2010.[20] In the early 1990s, he twice declined Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney’s offer of a Senate post and later did the same to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien's suggestion Béliveau's name be added as a candidate for Governor General of Canada.[9]

On May 6, 1998, Béliveau was made by Governor General Roméo LeBlanc a Companion of the Order of Canada, then the country's highest civilian award.[21] In 2001, his name was added to Canada's Walk of Fame,[22] the same year he was honoured with his portrait on a Canadian postage stamp. In August 2008, the Canadian Pacific Railway named a station in his honour. On June 29, 2009, he was named an honorary captain of the men's national team for the 2010 Winter Olympics.[23]

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1947–48 Victoriaville Tigres QJHL 42 46 21 67
1948–49 Victoriaville Tigres QJHL 42 48 27 75 54 4 4 2 6 2
1949–50 Quebec Citadelles QJHL 35 36 44 80 47 14 22 9 31 15
1950–51 Quebec Citadelles QJHL 46 61 63 124 120 22 23 31 54 76
1950–51 Quebec Aces QMHL 1 2 1 3 0
1950–51 Montreal Canadiens NHL 2 1 1 2 0
1951–52 Quebec Aces QMHL 59 45 38 83 88 15 14 10 24 14
1952–53 Quebec Aces QMHL 57 50 39 89 59 19 14 15 29 25
1952–53 Montreal Canadiens NHL 3 5 0 5 0
1953–54 Montreal Canadiens NHL 44 13 21 34 22 10 2 8 10 4
1954–55 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 37 36 73 58 12 6 7 13 18
1955–56 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 47 41 88 143 10 12 7 19 22
1956–57 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 33 51 84 105 10 6 6 12 15
1957–58 Montreal Canadiens NHL 55 27 32 59 93 10 4 8 12 10
1958–59 Montreal Canadiens NHL 64 45 46 91 67 3 1 4 5 4
1959–60 Montreal Canadiens NHL 60 34 40 74 57 8 5 2 7 6
1960–61 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 32 58 90 57 6 0 5 5 0
1961–62 Montreal Canadiens NHL 43 18 23 41 36 6 2 1 3 4
1962–63 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 18 49 67 68 5 2 1 3 2
1963–64 Montreal Canadiens NHL 68 28 50 78 42 5 2 0 2 18
1964–65 Montreal Canadiens NHL 58 20 23 43 76 13 8 8 16 34
1965–66 Montreal Canadiens NHL 67 29 48 77 50 10 5 5 10 6
1966–67 Montreal Canadiens NHL 53 12 26 38 22 10 6 5 11 26
1967–68 Montreal Canadiens NHL 59 31 37 68 28 10 7 4 11 6
1968–69 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 33 49 82 55 14 5 10 15 8
1969–70 Montreal Canadiens NHL 63 19 30 49 10
1970–71 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 25 51 76 40 20 6 16 22 28
NHL totals 1125 507 712 1219 1029 162 79 97 176 211

Awards and honours[edit]

National Hockey League
Award Year Ref.
Played in the NHL All-Star Game 13x between 1953 and 1969 [24]
First Team All-Star 1954–55, 1955–56
1956–57, 1958–59
1959–60, 1960–61
[24]
Second Team All-Star 1957–58, 1963–64
1965–66, 1968–69
[24]
Art Ross Memorial Trophy 1955–56 [10]
Hart Memorial Trophy 1955–56, 1963–64 [10]
Conn Smythe Trophy 1964–65 [10]
NHL Lifetime Achievement Award 2009

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Jean Béliveau (2005). My Life in Hockey. With Chris Goyens and Allan Turowetz. Vancouver, British Columbia: First Greystone Books. ISBN 978-1-55365-149-9. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Weber, Bruce (December 3, 2014). "Jean Béliveau, N.H.L. Great and Ambassador for Hockey, Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  2. ^ Beliveau, p. 26
  3. ^ Beliveau, p. 28
  4. ^ Beliveau, p. 25
  5. ^ Beliveau, p. 31
  6. ^ Beliveau, p. 32
  7. ^ a b c Stubbs, Dave (October 30, 2014). "Jean Béliveau timeline". Montreal Gazette. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Films Gros Bill (194)". canoe.ca. 
  9. ^ a b http://www.ottawacitizen.com/sports/Montreal+Canadiens+legend+Jean+B%C3%A9liveau/10434796/story.html
  10. ^ a b c d "Jean Beliveau statistics". Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  11. ^ "NHL:Stanley Cup Fun Facts". NHL.com. 
  12. ^ "Jean Beliveau retires from Montreal". Spartanburg Herald Journal. June 10, 1971. p. D1. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  13. ^ Beliveau, p. 58
  14. ^ "Jean Béliveau on To Tell The Truth". The Gazette. March 30, 2012. Retrieved March 31, 2012. 
  15. ^ Ulmer, Mike (December 3, 2014). "Ulmer: Beliveau's success unequaled in NHL history". TSN. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  16. ^ MacGregor, Roy (2007). The Home Team: Fathers, Sons and Hockey. Toronto: Penguin Canada. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-14-305336-1. 
  17. ^ Canadian Press (February 28, 2012). "Jean Beliveau suffers stroke". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved February 28, 2012. 
  18. ^ "Canadiens legend Beliveau passes away at age 83". TSN.ca. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ Smith, Andy (December 3, 2014). "Jean Beliveau, hockey sensation of size, grace and skill, dies at 83". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Grand Officer of the National Order of Quebec citation". 
  21. ^ Office of the Governor General of Canada. Order of Canada citation. Queen's Printer for Canada. Retrieved May 24, 2010
  22. ^ "Canada's Walk of Fame Inducts Jean Beliveau". Canada's Walk of Fame. 
  23. ^ "Béliveau named honourary Team Canada Member and Honourary Captain of Canada's 2010 Gold Medal Winning Men's Olympic Hockey Team". Hockey Canada. June 29, 2009. Retrieved June 17, 2010. [dead link]
  24. ^ a b c Kreiser, John (December 3, 2014). "Numbers show part of Beliveau's greatness". National Hockey League. Retrieved December 3, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Doug Harvey
Montreal Canadiens captain
196171
Succeeded by
Henri Richard
Preceded by
inaugural winner
Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
1965
Succeeded by
Roger Crozier
Preceded by
Gordie Howe
Winner of the Hart Trophy
1964
Succeeded by
Bobby Hull
Preceded by
Ted Kennedy
Winner of the Hart Trophy
1956
Succeeded by
Gordie Howe
Preceded by
Bernie Geoffrion
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
1956
Succeeded by
Gordie Howe