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Beliveau has lasting impact with current Canadiens

by Dan Myers / NHL.com

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- None of the players on the Montreal Canadiens roster are old enough to have seen Jean Beliveau play, but the death Tuesday of the hockey legend hit them hard.

Even goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban, who normally don't talk after the morning skate on a game day, were eager to share their thoughts on Beliveau, who won the Stanley Cup 10 times as a player and seven times as a Canadiens executive.

Scout Bordeleau on playing with Beliveau

Chris Bordeleau had the privilege to play and practice alongside the late Jean Beliveau for two seasons as a member of the Montreal Canadiens in the late 1960s.

Bordeleau, who spent 21 years at NHL Central Scouting before announcing his retirement in October, remembers the first time he saw Beliveau in person and in the locker room. 

"He was so quiet and just preached by example," Bordeleau told NHL.com. "For that era, he was a really big man, and at a time when there weren't any curved sticks he could pass the puck so well off his forehand or backhand. He'd score so many goals in so many different ways and was a real leader.

"He did so much for everybody. It was just an honor to have played with a man like that."

Bordeleau was property of the Canadiens for five seasons before his call-up with the big club in 1968-69. He would also play 48 games with the Canadiens in 1969-70.

"Everyone knows about all the Stanley Cup championships he helped Montreal win, but I don't think there was an ambassador like him for hockey when he played and even after he played," Bordeleau said. "He never said no to charity events and, personally, I even think he did too much."

Bordeleau won a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens in 1968-69 while playing in 13 games alongside Beliveau and other Hockey Hall of Fame members Yvan Cournoyer, Jacques Lemaire, Henri Richard and "Gump" Worsley. There times when Canadiens coach Claude Ruel asked Bordeleau to replace Beliveau in the faceoff circle.

"Some nights you're not playing too well and coach used to send me out to take faceoffs because [Beliveau] wasn't having a good night," Bordeleau said. "Even though I was taking his spot, he'd look at me and say, 'Go get 'em.' He was that type of person, a team guy. Individuals like him aren't born every day."

-- Mike G. Morreale

"We lost a family member," Price said Wednesday ahead of their game against the Minnesota Wild. "He's an outstanding citizen and a great ambassador for our hockey team and we're sad to see him go. He's the bar for being a Montreal Canadien. He set the standard for everyone else to follow and he'll always be remembered."

Subban tweeted Tuesday night that he met Beliveau when he was 10. It was then, he said, he knew he wanted to play for the Canadiens.

"What he means to hockey and the Montreal Canadiens, I don't know if words can describe it," Subban said. "We understand, especially the guys from Canada, fans of the Montreal Canadiens especially, and growing up a fan, we understand what he means to the Canadiens."

Perhaps the greatest Canadiens player of all time, Beliveau also left an impression with players, coaches and executives off the ice.

"Just a really good human being," Price said. "He was the standard of being a great champion. He was a winner, but a humble winner. He was the benchmark."

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin described a meeting he had with Beliveau at Beliveau's home in early September.

"He was sick at the time but he took the time to greet us," Bergevin said. "As long as I live I will never forget that moment."

Growing up outside Gatineau, Quebec, forward PA Parenteau got a chance to meet Beliveau as a pee-wee player. He relived the memory with a smile on his face Wednesday.

"He was easy to approach; that's what I remember," Parenteau said. "He was such a big legend, but he was just a nice guy, a good man overall. He will be sorely missed for sure."

Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said one of his favorite memories of Beliveau was being at the Montreal Forum to see Beliveau score his 500th goal, in 1971.

"I was telling the assistant coaches this morning ... I described the goal, then went on YouTube and saw the goal again," Therrien said. "Those are great memories because I remember I was there with my dad at the time.

“People like him, like Rocket Richard, are the reason why there is such a big history with the Montreal Canadiens. It's always special to work for this organization, and to play, because of those types of persons who played before us. It's a tough day; a sad day for the Montreal Canadiens family. We lost a legend. For people in Quebec, and all the NHL fans, Mr. Jean Beliveau was really special. It's a huge loss."

Bergevin said, "It's the Montreal Canadiens. I'm not putting any franchise down, but it's the Montreal Canadiens. He's probably among the few that is the face of the franchise, forever, and will stay so."

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