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Numbers show part of Beliveau's greatness

by John Kreiser

Jean Beliveau's career numbers may not look as impressive because he played most of it during an era in which goals often were hard to come by, but Jean, who died Tuesday at age 83, is one of the handful of hockey immortals who transcended the sport. The Montreal Canadiens purchased a whole league just to get his NHL rights, and it was money well spent.

Beliveau was the backbone of one of the greatest dynasties in sports, the Canadiens of the late 1950s, and went on to a hallowed place in hockey history during his playing career and in the 40-plus years after he hung up his skates.

Here's a look at some of the numbers that illustrate a measure of Beliveau's greatness:

1 -- Scoring titles won by Beliveau, who won the Art Ross Trophy with 88 points in 1955-56, the first of five consecutive seasons when the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, and one when Beliveau topped all playoff scorers with 19 points.

2 -- Seasons when Beliveau reached 40 goals. He had a career-high 47 goals in 1955-56 and scored 45 in 1958-59, leading the NHL each time. Beliveau had six other seasons in which he scored 30 or more goals, including 1968-69, when he scored 32 as a 38-year-old.

3 -- Beliveau's rank on the NHL goal-scoring list when he retired in 1971. His 507 goals were more than any player except Gordie Howe and former teammate Maurice Richard when he hung up his skates 41 years ago; he's now 39th. His 1,219 points were second to Howe at the time; he's also 39th in that category.

4 -- The uniform number most identified with Beliveau. It's also the number of other numbers he wore with the Canadiens before donning his trademark No. 4 (long since retired by the club). Beliveau also wore Nos. 8, 20, 17 and 12.

5 -- Seasons when Beliveau had 80 or more points. Though he won the scoring title in 1955-56 with 88 points, that was only his third-best season; he had a career-best 91 points in 1958-59 and 90 points in 1960-61.

6 -- First Team All-Star berths for Beliveau. He made it three times in a row, from 1954-55 through 1956-57, was a Second-Team All-Star in 1957-58, and then made the First Team for the following three seasons, through 1960-61. He was a Second Team All-Star in 1963-64, 1965-66 and 1968-69.

7 -- Goals by Beliveau in the 1956 Stanley Cup Final, setting a modern-day record for the most goals in the championship round. Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders matched the mark in 1982.

8 -- Years between Beliveau's Hart Trophies. He was named the NHL's most valuable player in 1955-56, and again in 1963-64.

9 -- Game-winning goals in the Stanley Cup Final, more than any player. He has one more than longtime teammate Richard.

10 -- Years Beliveau served as captain of the Canadiens, the longest of any player in the franchise's 100-plus years. He was given the "C" after Doug Harvey was traded to the New York Rangers in 1961 and didn't take it off until retiring 10 years and five Stanley Cup championships later.

11 -- Power-play goals in the Stanley Cup Final by Beliveau, also an NHL record. He had one more than longtime teammate Bernie Geoffrion and three more than fellow Canadiens player Yvan Cournoyer and Bossy of the Islanders.

12 -- Most goals scored by Beliveau in one playoff year. He scored 12 times in 10 games in 1956, leading the Canadiens to the first of their five consecutive championships.

13 -- All-Star Games in which Beliveau took part, beginning in 1953 and ending in 1969. He scored four goals and added three assists in those games.

14 -- Seconds into Game 7 of the 1965 Stanley Cup Final that Beliveau scored, sparking the Canadiens to a 4-0 victory against Chicago. It's the fastest Cup-winning goal from the start of a game in Stanley Cup history -- and it was the second Cup-winner of his career. Beliveau also scored the title-winning goal in 1960.

16 -- Assists by Beliveau, then 39, in the 1971 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Not only was it the highest playoff total of his career, but it was the most assists of any player in the postseason that year.

17 -- Seasons in which Beliveau took part in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Of his 18 full seasons, the only one in which he didn't take part in the postseason was 1969-70, when the Canadiens were edged by the New York Rangers for the final playoff berth on the last day of the season.

27 -- Power-play points in the Stanley Cup Final by Beliveau, by far the most of any player -- Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky are next with 19. Beliveau's 11 power-play goals and 16 power-play assists also are Final records.

34 -- Beliveau's age when he won the initial Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP after leading the Canadiens to the 1965 Stanley Cup. He scored eight goals and had eight assists for 16 points in 12 games.

50 -- Goals by Beliveau for the Quebec Senior Hockey League's Quebec Aces in 1952-53. He finished with 50 goals and 89 points in 57 games that season, and the Canadiens purchased the entire league in order to get the reluctant Beliveau to join them for the 1953-54 NHL season.

62 -- Points by Beliveau in the Stanley Cup Final, the most of any player in NHL history. In 64 games, he had 30 goals (second all-time to Richard) and 32 assists (tied for second with Howe, behind Gretzky).

143 -- Beliveau's penalty-minute total in 1955-56, by far his highest in a single season. Despite missing the equivalent of more than two full games, Beliveau won his only scoring title in 1955-56.

176 -- Career playoff points by Beliveau in his 162 postseason games. At the time he retired, he was far and away No. 1 on the playoff scoring list. He's now tied for 14th with Sergei Fedorov.

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