Canadiens great Jean Beliveau dies at 83

Wed Dec 3, 2014 12:18pm EST
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(Reuters) - Jean Beliveau, a Hall of Fame ice hockey player who won 10 Stanley Cup championships with the National Hockey League's Montreal Canadiens, has died. He was 83.

"Like millions of hockey fans who followed the life and the career of Jean Beliveau, the Canadiens today mourn the passing of a man whose contribution to the development of our sport and our society was unmeasurable," Canadiens president Geoff Molson said in a statement early on Wednesday.

"Jean Beliveau was a great leader, a gentleman and arguably the greatest ambassador our game has ever known."

Beliveau spent his 20-year career with Montreal, including 10 as the team's captain, and was also part of the franchise's unprecedented run of five-straight Stanley Cup championships from 1956 to 1960.

When he retired after the 1970-71 season he was the team's all-time leader in nearly every offensive category. Beliveau is considered one of the greatest players in the team's rich history and remains second on its all-time scoring list.

The Canadiens retired Beliveau's jersey the season after he retired, ensuring no other Montreal player wears the number four.

He suffered from a number of health issues in recent years, including throat cancer, which he eventually recovered from, and a number of heart-related problems and strokes.

Beliveau, who was named the honorary captain for Canada's 2010 men's Olympic ice hockey team, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1972 after a career where he amassed 1,219 points in 1,125 games.

The Hockey Hall of Fame waived its usual three-year waiting period so it could induct Beliveau sooner.   Continued...

A woman places a photo of Jean Beliveau inside the arena named after him in Longueuil December 3, 2014. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi