Mario Lemieux on Jean Beliveau: "Beyond being one of the greatest players in NHL history, Jean Beliveau was class personified." (1 of 3)
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) December 3, 2014
The hockey world suffered another loss on Tuesday night.
Legendary Montreal Canadien Jean Beliveau passed away at the age of 83.
Beliveau played 18 seasons with the Canadiens from 1953-71, scoring 507 goals, 712 assists and 1,219 points in 1,125 games. The 14-time NHL All-Star won the league MVP twice, scoring title once and was the playoff MVP in 1965.
“Beyond being one of the greatest players in NHL history, Jean Beliveau was class personified,” Penguins owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux said on the team’s official Twitter account. “He was a hero to generations of his fellow French Canadians and hockey fans everywhere. Our sport has lost a great ambassador. He will be missed.”
Lemieux and others in the Penguins organization were talking about Beliveau this morning. Head coach Mike Johnston was in on that conversation.
“It was interesting, Mario was in there and we were talking about some of the famous Canadiens and watching some of the clips they had on of Jean,” Johnston said. “Two things that stand out for me, and I was really young, but I remember him being — as everybody does — a classy guy. He just had that presence. (He was) a tall guy; off the ice, he just looked all class. And then when he played on the ice, he played the same way. He played with a lot of skill, a lot of ability. He seemed to be able to weave his way through traffic up and down the ice all the time, just the way he handled the puck.”
Beliveau, a Trois-Rivieres, Quebec native, won 10 Stanley Cups as a player and seven as an executive, all with Montreal. Any Habs fan, and particularly those of French Canadian decent, knows of the legend of Beliveau.
“Being French-Canadian, he played for Montreal, he was such a good player with so much talent,” said Sorel, Quebec native Marc-Andre Fleury. “I never really saw him play because he was before my time, a little bit, but just the legend that he grew and what I’ve heard from him, it’s amazing.”
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is a student of the game. He knows the history and traditions of the sport of hockey. Crosby had the good fortune to meet Beliveau before his passing.
“Just a great person, an amazing role model,” Crosby said. “The word ‘class’ comes to mind when you think about him. It’s sad to see. It’s been tough for the hockey world lately, losing so many great people. But it was a great opportunity, I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet him.”