Rabid Habs

Habs Legend Jean Béliveau Has Passed Away

Jean Béliveau

Habs legend, Jean Béliveau, passed away Tuesday, December 2nd at 83 years old.

Nicknamed “Le gros Bill”, because of his physical stature, or “Le grand Jean” when his leadership role took precedence over his physical stature, Béliveau won five straight Stanley Cups (1955 to 1960) with the Habs – a feat still unmatched. At the time of his retirement, he had won ten Stanley Cups, including five as the Habs’ captain.

In 1996, Béliveau had suffered health problems that required the insertion of a pacemaker. In 2000, he was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor in the neck and he had to undergo radiation treatments. On January 20th 2010, he returned to the hospital where he spent 18 days and doctors had the opportunity to replace his pacemaker.

A native of Trois-Rivières, Jean Béliveau began to get noticed on the hockey scene while playing in Victoriaville in 1946. He then joined the Quebec Aces, then the Citadelles, and the entire province had already made labelled him a star when he made the jump to the NHL in 1953.

In 1955-56, he won the scoring title with 47 goals, 41 assists for 88 points, as the most valuable player of his team (he won again in 1964). He also picked up 143 penalty minutes during that season.

In 1961, he succeeded Doug Harvey as the Habs’ captain and in 1965, he put his hands on the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs’ most valuable player.

In 1968, Béliveau became the second player in NHL history – after Gordie Howe – to reach the 1,000 points plateau. In 1971, he reached the milestone of 500 goals. That same season, his last before retirement, he finished the playoffs with 22 points … and the Stanley Cup. He was 39 years old.

At the time of his retirement, Béliveau held many records, including the most points in the history of the Montreal Canadiens and as the NHL playoffs’ leading scorer.

Throughout his career, he scored 507 goals and 712 assists for 1,219 points in 1,125 regular season games. He also added 79 goals and 97 assists in 162 playoff games.

A true gentleman, a role model both on and off the ice, he embodied all the qualities of a leader and a dedicated team player.

Béliveau’s # 4 was retired by the Habs in October 1971 and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 – bypassing the 3-year waiting period.