Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Profile: Jean Béliveau
Jean Béliveau, Athlete, Ice Hockey
Jean Béliveau is one of the most genuine hockey heroes in Canadian history. Béliveau led by example both on and off the ice, separating him from other professional players,
A fast skater, master stickhandler and outstanding playmaker, Béliveau could have easily let success get to his head—but he never did. Instead, the man was a selfless and self-effacing team member. He acted as a mentor to newcomers and offering encouragement to veterans.
Clarence Campbell, president of the NHL, once said: “Any parent could use Jean Béliveau as a pattern or model. He provides hockey with a magnificent image. I couldn’t speak more highly of anyone who has ever been connected with our game than I do of Jean.”
Béliveau began his career in the late 1940s playing with Quebec City’s junior Citadels and senior Aces. In 1953, he was signed by the Montréal Canadiens and played with them for the next 18 seasons. His peers elected him captain in 1961, which he claimed to be the greatest hockey honour he ever received. Béliveau modestly wore the ‘C’ until retiring a decade later, guiding the team to 10 Stanley Cup victories.
He won several other awards over the course of his hockey career. After finishing an 88-point regular season in 1956, he was given the Art Ross Trophy recognizing him as the NHL’s top scorer that year. Béliveau was also presented with the Hart Trophy in both 1956 and 1964 for being the most valuable player in the league.
After retiring from the game in 1971, Béliveau was appointed Senior Vice-President of Corporate Affairs and Goodwill Ambassador for the Canadiens. He held this position until 1993, making thousands of public appearances to support charitable causes and visiting individuals in need.
His leadership, honesty and charisma were noted outside of professional hockey as well. Béliveau was twice offered seats in the Canadian Senate and even the position of governor general in 1993. However, he had different priorities and turned down all of the opportunities to spend more time with his family.
Canada lost a great hockey player and an even greater man this past December, when Béliveau passed away at the age of 83.
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