Old friends and rivals Jean Beliveau and Gordie Howe share another historic moment.
MONTREAL - How do you get dozens of hockey legends, the Canadian Prime Minister and the Quebec Premier to gather at the Bell Centre for a special event? Just say it's to honor Jean Bliveau.
Over 1,000 distinguished guests, including Canadiens legends, Original Six Rivals, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Quebec Premier Jean Charest celebrated the life of Jean Bliveau for a good cause Thursday night.
A grand total of $1 million was raised for the Montreal Canadiens Children's Foundation. The donations will be divided among six local children's charities: Ste-Justine Hospital Foundation, the Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation, Montreal Shriners Hospital for Children, the Centre mere enfant du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Qubec, the Centre femme, jeunesse et famille du Centre hospitalier universitaire de Sherbrooke, and the Quebec Society for Disabled Children.
A documentary on Jean's life both on and off the ice was punctuated by a performance by the Cirque du Soleil and a special message from Cline Dion and husband Ren Anglil. Beliveau's tireless charity efforts were celebrated by the captivated audience which also included former PM Jean Chrtien and ex-Quebec Premier Lucien Bouchard, and Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe.
The magical evening was capped off with the 25 Canadiens alumni in attendance including the guest of honor gathering on stage for a historic team photo that featured a grand total of 125 Stanley Cup rings won with the Canadiens.
As he so often did throughout this brilliant career both on and off the ice, Bliveau left the stage to a thunderous ovation from a capacity crowd that didn't have to be reminded they were a part of history.
Manny Almela is a writer for canadiens.com