MONTREAL -- To get an idea of just how much the late Jean Beliveau meant to the Montreal Canadiens, you just have to listen to Rejean Houle talk about him for a few minutes.
His voice quivering with emotion, Houle spoke to reporters during the public viewing of Beliveau's body at Bell Centre on Sunday. Every time Houle made reference to Beliveau, he called him "the great Jean."
It was as if Houle, the president of the Canadiens alumni association, did not know Beliveau under any other name.
"Over the course of Canadiens history, the presence of the great Jean is so important, we want our children and grandchildren to follow the example of the great Mr. Beliveau," Houle said. "The great Jean did so much for the community, he was so present. Whenever anyone needed the great Jean, the great Jean was there. I hope it also provides an example to our current players that you have to think of the fans and think of the people who don't have the advantages we have, and to help them. The great Jean was the great hope, the exceptional person who did that. I would even say that the great Jean burned himself out traveling to banquets, to social events everywhere to raise money to help people.
"Bravo to our Jean, our great Jean we love so much."