The Diachronic Barber Pole Observations of a Recovering Hockey Exile

Montreal Mystique Interviews Jean Béliveau

February 11, 2010, by Homme De Sept-Iles

Some athletes transcend their sport as a condition of their athletic prowess. Others transcend because of notoriety. That generation’s teens love them, parents appalled. Still others are lifted by sheer force of will and personality. Then there are the eminent few. Those whose bearing, behaviour, elegance and consistency power their respect for all. Those whose sheer human decency is apparent to all who meet them.

Jean Béliveau was ten-year captain of the Canadiens, helped earn ten Stanley Cups and is the greatest ambassador the sport has ever known (yes, I know about Wayne). He was offered the Governor Generalship of the country in the mid-nineties, has received the Orders of Quebec and Canada and continues his distinguished role as the longest-serving ambassador in Montreal Canadiens history.

The Montreal Canadiens bought an entire hockey league to secure Jean Béliveau’s professional playing rights. Think about that one for three moments. He was magic for the five-in-a-row legendary squad of the fifties, centred the Rocket and Boom Boom, stewarded Yvan Cournoyer and Henri Richard and led the Canadiens’ quietest dynasty to five cups in seven years to close out his career. He is The Lion Regal; the icon Guy Lafleur idolized, the smooth player most compared to Mario Lemieux and the reason silky Vincent Lecavalier wears the number four.

For Jean Béliveau, there are the accolades that only the sublime players receive;

“When I first came up I used to look at the guys sitting on their bech and say, ‘My God.’ I mean, there was Béliveau. What can you say about Jean, one of the classiest individuals that I know.”- Bobby Orr

“Jean Béliveau was probably the best player ever in the NHL. He was a typical centreman with lanky strides and vision to both sides. You talk about Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Beliveau was as good as them during our time.”
- Rod Gilbert (Hall of Fame member and former New York Ranger star)

“When I first came up to the Montreal Canadiens, I stayed a week at Jean’s place. He was helping me out with the pressure I was having at that time. It was really nice and very important to me because he had always been my idol.” - Guy Lafleur

“The best player I have ever coached.”Punch Imlach (Maple Leaf coaching icon and Beliveau’s coach with the QSHL Quebec Aces)

“One of the most frequently interviewed men in sports, Béliveau nevertheless retains an aura uneroded by media exposure. Every question posed to him is answered thoroughly and patiently, as if for the first time. Behind the regal countenance and still-majestic features beats the heart of a small-town boy whose father worked for the power company.” - Michael Ulmer (Author of Canadiens Captains)

“Brilliant goals, brilliant assists, leadership, he always was the dominating presence in the game, the player you had to watch because at any moment he might engineer a dramatic, game-winning turn of events.”Dick Irvin Jr.

“My dad used to say, Jean, no matter how people will approach you with money and gifts and offers that seem ridiculously easy, you must remember that nothing comes free in this life and that hard work and discipline will make you who and what you are.” – Jean Béliveau

Jean Béliveau very kindly took time from his schedule in late December to speak with us at Montreal Mystique. We covered his early career, his thoughts on leadership and his current role as an ambassador for the Montreal Canadiens. At 78 years of age, Béliveau remains vital, jovial and reflective. His perceptive influence on this team is ongoing and he remains its most revered steward.

Listen Below:

Montreal Mystique Podcast  

Click play (black arrow button) on the player above to play within the web page or click the link below to download via iTunes below. Jean Béliveau 38 mins.

Download via iTunes

Béliveau Facts

Position: C (Centre)
Shoots: Left
Height: 6-3 Weight: 205
Born: August 31, 1931 in Trois-Rivieres, Québec
Playing Career: 1952-1971

Awards and Distinctions
Stanley Cups: 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1971
NHL Reg Season Scoring: GP: 1125, G: 507, A:712, PTS: 1219
NHL Playoff Scoring: GP: 162, G: 79, A: 97, PTS: 176
Art Ross Trophy: 1955-56
Hart Memorial Trophy: 1955-56, 1963-64
Conn Smythe: 1964-65

Jean Béliveau – Detailed Statistics
Jean Béliveau – Detailed Biography

The Conn Smythe Trophy is for the Stanley Cup playoff’s most valuable player
The Art Ross Trophy goes to the NHL’s regular season points leader
The Hart Memorial Trophy goes to the NHL’s most valuable player

Listen Below:

Montreal Mystique Podcast  

Biography Credits

Jean Béliveau, My LIfe in Hockey
by Jean Béliveau with Chrys Goyens and Allan Turowetz
Foreword – Dick Irvin Enterprises
1994
McClelland & Stewart Inc.

Lions in Winter
by Chrys Goyens and Allan Turowetz
Douglas & McIntyre 1981
Penguin Books 1987
The Habs
by Dick Irvin Jr.
1991
McClelland & Stewart Inc.

Canadiens Captains
by Michael Ulmer
1996
Macmillan Canada

Although short, my experience with Jean Béliveau also left an imprint. The dishes aren’t as irritating, inanimate objects are ridiculed less often and people in my life are seen with more respect and joy. I understand more deeply those who make others around them better. Timely slot passes are just one item on the list. - Homme de Sept-Iles

Jean Béliveau was recently hospitalized after suffering a mild stroke. We are happy to say that he is recovering and in the care of his wife Elise. We wish him well in fully recovering and look forward to his next public appearance. Merci encore, Jean.

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5 comments

1 Dennis { 02.15.10 at 9:53 PM }

Great job, HDS. I need to replay it again in quieter moments so I can concentrate on every word. Thanks, and again, great job.

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2 Homme de Sept-Iles { 02.16.10 at 12:56 AM }

Sounds good, Dennis. Glad you are checking it out.

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3 Dennis { 02.17.10 at 7:42 PM }

HDS,
I finally got to hear the Beliveau interview without distractions and I must say, you did a tremendous job. You covered so much with him and it’s nice to know he was an altar boy like me. I was also happy to hear him talk about Toe Blake, who is one of favourite topics. We can hear that Jean has slowed down somewhat, but let’s hope he continues on for a long time yet. Thanks for this. I loved it.

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4 Homme de Sept-Iles { 02.18.10 at 5:31 AM }

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts on the interview. I hope he goes on for a long time to come, as well. What era did you enjoy the most; I imagine you saw a few Beliveau games on TV. Beliveau may be older but he is still le grand diplomat.

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