jean belliveau Biography

jean belliveau Biography

Jean belliveau

Joseph Jean Arthur “Le Gros Bill” Beliveau, CC, GOQ, hockey player (born 31 August 1931 in Trois-Rivières, QC; died 2 December 2014 in Longueuil, QC). Jean Beliveau was one of the most iconic players in the history of the Montreal Canadiens and the National Hockey League (NHL). The fourth player in NHL history to score 500 goals and the second player to score 1,000 points, he was awarded the Hart Trophy (1956, 1964), the Art Ross Trophy (1956), and the Conn Smythe Trophy (1965). His 17 Stanley Cup wins – 10 as a player and 7 as a team executive – are an unequaled NHL record. A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame and Canada’s Walk of Fame, Beliveau was made a Companion of the Order of Canada and Grand Officer of the Ordre National du Québec. He is considered one of the best and kindest players in NHL history, a well-known ambassador for the game of hockey.

Family and childhood

Jean Beliveau was born in Trois-Rivières, the eldest of eight children of Arthur and Laurette Beliveau, who were of Acadian descent. (His father’s ancestors settled in Nova Scotia in the mid-17th century, then near Boston after the Acadian expulsion, and finally in Quebec in the mid-19th century.) When Beliveau was six years old, his family settled in Victoriaville, Quebec. Went. That year he received his first pair of skates as a gift from his father, who worked for the Shawinigan Water and Power Company.

Jean, his siblings, and their neighbors spent their childhood winters on the Belivius’ backyard ice rink. There was one long game of winter shine, a constant stream of kids eager to play at every opportunity. Beliveau remembered being called to lunch and not even taking off his skates before going out again.

In 1943, at the age of 12, Beliveau began playing organized house league hockey. Three years later, at the age of 15, he was playing for Collège de Victoriaville. Beliveau also excelled in baseball as an infielder and pitcher, and when he was 16, he turned down an offer to play for a minor league team in Alabama.

Jean Béliveau

Jean Beliveau pitches for his team at Collège Sacré-Coeur in Victoriaville during the 1947-48 season.

(courtesy City of Victoriaville)

Junior and amateur hockey career

Beliveau then focused solely on hockey and joined the Quebec Citadels, a junior hockey team. During the 1949–50 season, he scored 35 goals and 45 assists, second best in the league. He made brief appearances for the Montreal Canadiens in 1950 and 1951 and performed well both times, but he was reluctant to play professionally. After Beliveau’s second stint with the Canadiens, Maurice Richard said, “He’s great. He’s got the best shot I’ve ever seen in hockey and he’s a good guy. He’s a great addition to this team.” Can help and I want him to change his mind.

For the 1951–52 season, Beliveau signed with a senior franchise, the Quebec Aces. He played with Herb Carnegie, who became his mentor and lifelong friend. Along with the Aces, Beliveau earned the nickname “Le Gros Bill”, after the 1949 film of the same name starring actor Yves Henry, who resembled Beliveau. Despite playing with an amateur team, Beliveau reportedly earned about $20,000 per year between his salary and endorsements. He attracted so much attention that when the Colisee de Quebec was built it became known as “The House that Beliveau Built” due to the huge crowds it attracted.

However, the Montreal Canadiens continued to pursue him aggressively. General manager Frank Selke asked Beliveau to sign the standard NHL “C Form”, which would have outlined the terms of his career with the Canadiens, including a start date and salary. On the advice of his father, who did not want his son to “sign anything that allows someone else to control his life,” Beliveau signed the “B Form”, which allowed him to travel to Montreal. Committed to playing hockey if he ever decided to play hockey professionally.

In a dramatic move, the Canadiens purchased the entire Quebec Senior Hockey League, turned it professional and called up Beliveau. When he signed with the team in 1953, it was for an unprecedented $105,000 over five years. The contract was also the first multi-year deal given by the Canadiens to a newcomer.

Jean Béliveau with the Quebec Aces

(courtesy of the City of Victoriaville)

nhl career

Beliveau was exceptionally large for his era – 6’3″ and 205 pounds – and accomplished. A center, he was a deceptively fast skater with exceptional stickhandling abilities and a wrist shot. Once in the NHL, Beliveau played for 18 seasons. Played at center for the Canadiens. In 1961, he was voted captain by his teammates, which remained a source of pride for the rest of his life.

By the time he retired, Beliveau was also a 10-time All-Star, the leading point scorer in Canadiens history (with 1,219) and the leading goal scorer in Stanley Cup playoff history (with 79). He was awarded the Hart Trophy for leading the NHL in scoring in the 1955–56 season. He also won the inaugural Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1965.

Jean Beliveau scored 507 goals and 1,219 points during 1,125 regular season games in the NHL. He was the fourth player to score 500 career goals (after Maurice Richard, Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull) and the second player to score 1,000 points (after Howe). Beliveau’s final act as the Canadiens’ longest-serving team captain was to hoist the Stanley Cup for the tenth time. That same year, 1971, the Canadiens retired his number 4.

The following year, Beliveau was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which waived its standard three-year waiting period. He also rejected an offer of $1 million to play in the World Hockey Association’s (WHA) Quebec Nordiques’ inaugural season. Despite his impressive list of awards and records, Beliveau always emphasized team victories more than individual accolades. He credited his father for instilling in him the importance of loyalty and the belief that “your good name is your greatest asset.”

Later Career

To mark his retirement as a player in 1971, Béliveau founded the Jean Béliveau Foundation to help underprivileged children (this foundation was absorbed into the Society for Handicapped Children in 1993). He is known to accommodate every appearance request that fits into his schedule – especially those involving young people. When the team organized a tribute night for him, he insisted that the proceeds be donated to charity.

From 1981 to 1995, Beliveau served on the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee and on the boards of various companies. He founded Jean Beliveau, Inc. He also served as Chairman of Inc., a collection of diverse and successful business enterprises.

Después de ganarse su nombre en la Copa Stanley diez veces como jugador, sumó un total de 17 veces como ejecutivo de relaciones públicas con los Canadiens, más que cualquier individuo y que todos los equipos excepto los Canadiens. Beliveau se retiró como vicepresidente senior de asuntos corporativos de los Canadiens en 1993, pero permaneció en la franquicia a título no oficial hasta su muerte en 2014.

Jean Béliveau’s Jersey

SEE ALSO: Jacques Plante Biography

Jean Béliveau’s jersey in the replica of the Montreal Canadiens dressing room at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Ontario.

(courtesy Michael Barera, Wikimedia Commons

private life

Jean Beliveau met his wife Elise (née Couture) on a blind date while he was playing hockey in Quebec City in 1951. The two married in 1953 and their only child, Helen, was born in 1957.

In 1993, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney offered Beliveau a seat in the Senate, and in 1994, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien offered him the post of Governor General of Canada – the first time it had been extended to a professional hockey player. . Beliveau turned down both opportunities in order to support his widowed daughter (her husband, a police officer, had committed suicide in 1986) and two young grandchildren. “I firmly believe that it is my duty to be a father to those girls for the next five years,” he said at the time. What I told Mr. Chrétien was that going to Ottawa with my wife would be like abandoning my family.”

En 2005, Beliveau apoyó financieramente a su familia subastando varios recuerdos de su carrera, incluido su anillo de la Copa Stanley de 1958-59, una réplica del Trofeo Conn Smythe que le fue concedido en 1965 y su anillo de incorporación al Salón de la Fama del Hockey. – Aproximadamente 1 millón de dólares Estaba involucrado.

En 1998, Beliveau estaba entre un grupo de ex alumnos de la NHL que amenazaron con retirar su membresía del Salón de la Fama del Hockey si el agente del jugador caído en desgracia Alan Eagleson no era eliminado (el propio Eagleson se retiró como resultado).

Beliveau sobrevivió a problemas cardíacos en 1996 y le diagnosticaron cáncer de garganta en 2000, pero se recuperó por completo. También se recuperó de los derrames cerebrales que sufrió en 2010 y 2012. “Llamé a la puerta”, dijo después de su segundo derrame cerebral. “Pero parece que no estaban preparados para mí”.

Death and funeral

On December 4, 2014, two days after Beliveau’s death, Montreal Canadiens players wore the black number 4 on their jerseys in his honour. His body lay in state at the Bell Center in Montreal for two days; Thousands of people stood in queue to pay homage. His wife, Elise Beliveau, 61, stayed the entire time and met each of the bereaved personally.

Beliveau’s funeral on 10 December was televised nationally. It was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his two predecessors, Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney, as well as Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, former prime ministers Jean Charest, Bernard Landry and Lucien Bouchard, the Mayor of Montreal, Denis Coderre, and members of the Legislative Assembly of Montreal. Parliament Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau. Former teammates Guy Lafleur, Yvan Cournoyer, Phil Goyette, Serge Savard, Bobby Rousseau and Jean-Guy Talbot served as pallbearers. Cournoyer also offered a heartfelt eulogy.

On December 9, during the Canadiens’ game against the Vancouver Canucks, the team draped a Canadiens sweater with the number four on their usual seat – No. 1, Row EE, Section 102 – and lit the empty seat with spotlights during the game. , For the first time in years, the team did not report a sellout crowd: instead, they listed it as one person short of full capacity.

Tribute and legacy

Jean Beliveau was considered one of the game’s greatest and most respected players from the beginning of his career. In 1956, Toronto Maple Leafs owner Con Smythe told Maclean’s magazine, “Beliveau is the greatest thing that could have happened to the modern game. He says there is no room left for finesse, brains and technique for better than this.” When has there ever been a stickhandler? Who has ever shown more intelligence? Who has ever shot faster?” Teammate Dollard St. Laurent said, “There should be two leagues: one for professionals and one for Jean.” Beliveau’s classmate Bert Olmsted said, “Jean has such remarkable reactions, he can get in front of the net so quickly. Can take passes and fire the puck hard and accurately. He has a rocket’s sense of direction and is big and strong in front of the net, making it difficult for defensemen to get down. Asked if there was any way to stop Beliveau, Maple Leafs general manager Hap Day replied, “Of course, there is. But it’s not legal.”

Chicago Black Hawks superstar Bobby Hull recalled that when he played against Beliveau, “It was almost like, ‘Excuse me, Mr. Beliveau, I’m going to try to get the puck off you’.” “Being players against him, we had a lot of respect for the way he carried himself,” Hull said. When presenting Beliveau with the NHL Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, “Gene was the star of stars. Fans loved the way he played, but they also loved his humanity, his pride in his profession and the excellence he established.” Loved even more than him for the standards. He is the epitome of elegance and class. Even today, almost 40 years after his retirement, Jean Beliveau is welcomed with the same reverence wherever he goes. He is among others the icon of hockey. He exudes the same love that has always been his trademark – and always will be.”

Despite his fame, Beliveau always kept in touch and never refused autograph requests. Former player and executive Bob Gainey described Beliveau as someone who is “a strange balance or contradiction of royalty, but accessible.” After Beliveau’s death, sports reporter Michael Farber wrote, “Jean Beliveau was Canada’s best man. If this country were to look in the mirror and get a flattering picture, you would see Jean Beliveau staring back… He was everything Canada aspires to be.



Jean Beliveau received various high-profile honors over the years, including several honorary degrees from universities across Canada. Canada Post and the Royal Canadian Mint issued a commemorative stamp and coin in Béliveau’s honor in 2001, and in 2008 a Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) station was named after him. Several schools in Quebec and Ontario are named after him.

In 2003, the Montreal Canadiens established the Jean Beliveau Trophy, awarded annually to the player who “best demonstrates community involvement and spirit.” As part of the team’s 100th anniversary celebrations during the 2008–09 season, the franchise unveiled statues of Beliveau, Maurice Richard, Howie Morenz and Guy Lafleur in the Centennial Plaza at the Bell Center in Montreal. Beliveau was also named honorary captain of the Canadian men’s hockey team at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.

In 2015, the street in Longueuil where Beliveau lived for more than 50 years was renamed. He was appointed to the Great Montreal Academy by the Ordre de Montréal in 1986 and was posthumously made a Commander in the Ordre in 2016. That same year, McGill University established the Jean Beliveau Award, given annually to four students (two women and two men) who have “demonstrated academic achievement and leadership in student and/or community affairs.”


First Team All-Star (1955, 1956, 1957, 1959, 1960, 1961)
Second Team All-Star (1958, 1964, 1966, 1969)
Art Ross Trophy (1956)
Hart Memorial Trophy (1956, 1964)
Conn Smythe Trophy (1965)
Hockey Hall of Fame (1972)
Lifetime Achievement Award (2009)
The 100 Greatest NHL Players in History (2017)


Officer, Order of Canada (1969)
Academy of Great Montrealers, Ordre de Montréal (1986)
Chevalier, Ordre national du Québec (1988)
Loyola Medal, Concordia University (1995)
Companion, Order of Canada (1998)
Canada’s Walk of Fame (2001) Grand Officer, Ordre National du Québec (2006) Distinguished Honour, Order of Hockey in Canada (2012)
Commander, Ordre de Montréal (2016)

honorary degrees

Physical Education, Université de Moncton (1972)
Doctor of Civil Law, Acadia University (1998)
University of Ottawa (1999)
Doctor of Civil Law, St. Mary’s University (2001)
University Sainte-Anne (2001)
Doctor of Laws, McGill University (2006)
Doctor of Laws, Queens University (2008)
Doctor of Laws, Ryerson University (2009)
Doctor of Laws, Concordia University (2009)

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