Jean Beliveau (4) retired after winning the 1971 Stanley Cup, which was the 10th of his career and third with Jacques Lemaire. (GETTY)
Former Devils head coach Jacques Lemaire spent all 12 seasons of his NHL playing career with the Montreal Canadiens, including four as a teammate of Jean Beliveau, who passed away Tuesday at the age of 83. Lemaire won three championships with Beliveau, capturing the Stanley Cup in 1968, 1969 and 1971.
As the hockey world mourned the loss of a legend, Lemaire shared his memories of Montreal's great No. 4:
Even if you know that a guy is sick and it’s got to come one day, it’s still a shock when you hear the news. This guy was probably one of the best examples for the kids. He was considered a nice person and that is from everyone that played, which is unusual. Usually, you play against certain guys and you don’t like them. This guy was liked. Everything that he did for hockey and the type of guy that he was, I was really proud to have played a few years with him.
I think he was a person you looked towards, a guy that was going to be the best example to follow in your career. Beliveau was not a guy that spoke a lot, but when he did, I can tell you everyone, if someone was talking and he started to speak, everyone shut up right away because we wanted to hear what he had to say. He was a guy that everyone respected tremendously.
I remember playing Boston when they had [Bobby] Orr and [Phil] Esposito and [Wayne] Cashman and all of these guys. They had an excellent team. He probably saw that we felt we didn’t have a good chance to beat them. I remember he came in the room and said, ‘Guys the only thing we can do is play the best we can. If we play the best we can, we’ll accept the outcome.’ We went on and beat them.
He was a guy that was a team player. A guy that people will always remember because of what a gentleman he was. I’m not talking about how good a player he was, but we used to joke in the room, ‘Just close your eyes, put your stick on the ice and you’ll see the puck will end up on your stick.’
He was that type of guy that never criticized anybody; tried to help everyone. When I first came up, in those days it was different than today. In those days, the older guys stuck together and the young guys stuck together. We didn’t have a lot of chances to be with them off the ice. But there’s no doubt that everyone was really excited to have him on the team.
He was such a great person.