MONTREAL (AP) — Former Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau died Tuesday. He was 83.
The team confirmed the death of the Hall of Fame center and one of the most beloved players in Canadiens history.
A supremely skilled center who spent 18 full seasons and parts of two others with Montreal, Beliveau was also a popular ambassador for the sport. He scored 507 goals, won 10 Stanley Cups and was captain for 10 seasons before his retirement in 1971. He then moved seamlessly into an executive position with the club.
Beliveau was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972. He won two league MVP awards and has his name engraved on the Cup 17 times, including for years he was in the Canadiens’ front office.
“Meeting him is not like meeting other stars from the old days,” said Beliveau’s former linemate Gilles Tremblay. “When people see Bobby Hull, they say: ‘Hi Bobby.’ When they meet Big Jean, it’s always: ‘Hi, Mr. Beliveau.’ He commands respect.”
Canadiens fans who revered Beliveau were given a scare in 2000 when he was diagnosed with throat cancer, but after losing 30 pounds during treatment and enduring “the worst period of my life,” he recovered. Soon, he was back in his familiar spot attending nearly every home game with his wife Elise in the seats among the fans.
He also survived a stroke in 2012.
When the Canadiens opened Centennial Plaza at the Bell Centre as part of the team’s 100th anniversary, their four greatest players were honored with statues: Maurice Richard, Howie Morenz, Guy Lafleur and Beliveau.
Beliveau also ran a charitable foundation and sat on the board of directors of several companies.
He and Elise had one daughter, Helene, and granddaughters Mylene and Magalie.