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Born August 31, 1931 (1931-08-31) (age 78),
Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada
Height
Weight
6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
205 lb (93 kg; 14 st 9 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Pro clubs Montreal Canadiens
Playing career 1950 – 1971
Hall of Fame, 1972

Jean Arthur "Le Gros Bill" Béliveau, CC, OQ (born August 31, 1931 in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Canada) is a former professional ice hockey player, who played parts of 20 seasons with the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens. As a player, he won the Stanley Cup 10 times, and as an executive he was part of another 7 championship teams, the most Stanley Cup victories by an individual to date. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972.

Contents

Early life

Jean Béliveau was born in 1931 to Arthur and Laurette Béliveau, the eldest of eight children. 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 Quebec to the Trois Rivieres area in the mid-1800s. Jean's father was also part of a large family, one of six brothers, many of whom moved to western Canada in the 1910s although numerous relatives remained in the Trois-Rivieres area and St. Celestin.[1] Jean's family moved to Victoriaville when Jean was six and Jean grew up in Victoriaville, attending L'Ecole Saint-David, L'Academie Saint-Louis de Gonzague and College de Victoriaville schools.[2]

Like many future hockey players of the era, the Béliveau family had a backyard ice rink on which the Béliveau children, their friends and neighbours played shinny.[3] 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'Academie, which played on the school's schoolyard rink. As part of a team of the school's 'all-stars', Jean played against other local teams. At age fifteen, Jean entered the College and played for the school team and an intermediate team, the Victoriaville Panthers.[4]

In the summertime as a child, Béliveau also played baseball, playing in local leagues in Victoriaville. Béliveau was a pitcher and sometimes an infielder. At age sixteen, Jean played for the senior league team in Val D'or, Quebec. Jean's family turned down an offer of a minor-league pro contract for Jean at age fifteen.[5]

Playing career

A star at an early age, he was spotted by Canadiens general manager Frank Selke at the age of 15. Selke tried to get him to sign a "C-form," the usual form by which NHL teams bound young players to them. Under the form's terms, the player agreed to join the NHL club at a set date, and at an agreed-upon salary. However, Jean's father balked, and eventually Selke had to content himself with having Jean sign a "B-form," in which he agreed 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 didn't 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).

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. 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 a mighty character from Québécois folklore.

A powerful skater, he had a polished 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.

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. 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 and Larry Robinson played more games for the Habs.

After his playing days were over, Béliveau remained with the Canadiens team as an executive and goodwill ambassador. 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.[6]

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

Béliveau met his future wife, Elise Couture, in 1950 in Quebec City.[7] They were married on June 27, 1953 at St. Patrick's Church in Quebec City. They had one child together, daughter Hélène.

Upon retirement from playing, beside his activities with the Canadiens, Béliveau set up the charitable Jean Béliveau Foundation, established in 1971. In 1993, Béliveau transferred the foundation to the Society for Disabled Children. In 1994 Béliveau was offered the position of Governor General of Canada but declined in order to be with his daughter, Hélène, and two grandchildren, Mylene and Magalie; their father, a Quebec policeman, killed himself when they were five and three.[8]

Since the 1990s, Béliveau has 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 has been given many awards including several honourary doctorates from Canadian universities, plus the Loyola Medal in 1995. He was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec in 1988 and promoted to Officer in 2006[9]. On May 6, 1998 he was made a Companion of the Order of Canada, his country's highest civilian award.[10] In 2001, his name was added to Canada's Walk of Fame, 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. McGill University gave Béliveau an honourary Doctor of Laws degree in 2006.

Career statistics

    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

Hockey awards and accomplishments

In 1998, he was ranked number 7 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

See also

Reference

  • Béliveau, Jean; Goyens, Chrys; Turowetz, Allan (2005). My Life in Hockey. Vancouver, British Columbia: First Greystone Books. ISBN 9781553651499. 
  1. ^ Beliveau, p. 26
  2. ^ Beliveau, p. 28
  3. ^ Beliveau, p. 25
  4. ^ Beliveau, p. 31
  5. ^ Beliveau, p. 32
  6. ^ "NHL:Stanley Cup Fun Facts". NHL.com. http://www.nhl.com/cup/fun_facts.html. 
  7. ^ Beliveau, p. 58
  8. ^ MacGregor, Roy (2007). The Home Team: Fathers, Sons and Hockey. Toronto: Penguin Canada. p. 276. ISBN 978-0-14-305336-1. 
  9. ^ "National Order of Quebec citation". http://www.ordre-national.gouv.qc.ca/recherche_details.asp?id=600. 
  10. ^ "Appointments to The Order of Canada", accessed July 5, 2005

External links

Preceded by
Doug Harvey
Montreal Canadiens captains
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
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