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Rob Scuderi
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C, Jean "Le Gros Bill" Béliveau

1,219 points in 1,125 career NHL games
176 points in 162 career NHL playoff games, x10 Stanley Cup winner

12x Top 10 Points: 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 6, 8, 8, 9
10x Top 10 Goals: 1, 1, 2, 3, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9
11x Top 10 Assists: 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10

11x Top 10 Points NHL Playoffs: 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 5, 9
9x Top 10 Goals NHL Playoffs: 1, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 6, 6, 8
10x Top 10 Assists NHL Playoffs: 1, 1, 1, 3, 4, 5, 5, 5, 6, 7

Hart Trophy Voting: 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 4, 4
All-Star Team Voting: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3

2x Hart Trophy winner (1956, 1964)
1x Art Ross Trophy (1956)
2x Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1959 retro Smythe, 1965)
6x First All-Star Team (1955-1957, 1959-1961)
4x Second All-Star Team (1958, 1964, 1966, 1969)

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Paul Rimstead) - 4/6/1968
It is not the usual portrait of a great leader. He is a big man and quiet, and he rarely shows emotion. He sits in silence on the Montreal Canadiens' bench, his eyes fastened to the play. When he does speak in the dressing room, it is always with carefully chosen words, no matter what the situation. His name is Jean Beliveau, captain of the Canadiens, and they say he has never said anything bad about anyone.

"It's hard to put into words how we feel about Jean Beliveau," [Ralph Backstrom] said. "It's just that...well, we're so damned proud to have him as our captain." John Ferguson tried to explain..."What can you say about the guy?" he said. "He just has so much class, on and off the ice. And he never says anything bad about anybody."

Teammate Dick Duff is one of the more articulate players in the NHL. "It's his quiet dignity," he said. "Jean is so unassuming for a guy of his stature. When something has to be done - a presentation or something - we're all happy to have Jean Handle it, in English or in French. He's a very unselfish player. He has great moves, that great range, and anybody playing with him is certain to wind up with a lot of goals. If you get there, the puck will be there. Everybody likes to play on his line. Gilles Tremblay, for one, wants to play with Beliveau all the time if he can. I think Jean would have scored more goals over the years if he shot more. Instead, he looks for his wingers."

Duff recalled the day he joined the Canadiens from the New York Rangers. He was to play on a line with Beliveau. "Is there anything special you want me to do?" he asked. "No," smiled Beliveau. "Just play."

"And I remember," said Duff, "when I was with Toronto. We knew we had to stop Beliveau, so Bob Pulford would be assigned to him. Pully was supposed to bump him all night to slow him down. But the guy kept going. He has so much courage, so much determination."

In a game against Chicago, Beliveau skated after the puck with Stan Mikita and Doug Jarrett of the Blackhawks. When he skated past them, the blade of a stick creased his eyeball. Beliveau was rushed to the hospital that night and it was three days before his eye could be properly inspected to determine if his sight would be impaired. "I was very worried," he said. "I couldn't see...I kept I would react when I started playing again. Would I instinctively pull back when a stick was raised in a corner? If I did, that would be the end for me." He thought about it only until the moment he jumped over the boards for his first shift.

And moving, says Jean, is the key. "Everything is right when I am skating...Being a centreman, most of the time I have to be first when we hit the blueline. If I'm a half-step slower some night, my passes will be intercepted or I'll throw the line offside." And, if one of his wingers is having an off-night, Jean must adjust. "If my rightwinger is a half a step slower tonight when we get into the offensive zone. I must remember that and wait for him."

If Imlach had his choice, what NHL player would he like to see Brent [his son] pattern his life after? "Beliveau!" Imlach shot back, ignoring his own team. "The reason I said because Jean Beliveau is about the best thing that ever came down the pike. He could play for me anywhere, any time - in this world or the next."

David Molson, president of the Canadiens, shrugged. "what Can I say that you haven't already heard?" he asked. "Jean is the most striking and articulate professional athlete. I think that it's generally known that our team goes the way Jean Beliveau goes."

Originally Posted by Trail of the Stanley Cup, Vol. 3
There are many who rate Beliveau as the greatest centre of all time and certainly his characteristics and record give support for this opinion. Jean was a big handsome and strong man who could never be crowded off the puck and the bully boys of the league soon found that trying to body him was like hitting a truck in motion. He was a graceful skater and his long sweeping strides gave deception to his speed. His stickhandling was superb and his great reach accentuated his checking which was mindful of Frank Nighbor, a great centre of another era. Like Nighbor, he was also a gentleman on and off the ice.
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 2/20/1956
What's Beliveau's Weakness?

"Every hockey player has a weakness Phil Watson, coach of the New York Rangers, was saying here a few hours before Saturday's game. "I could skate but I couldn't score. Neil Colville couldn't skate but he could make plays. Alex Shibicky had a terrific shot but he couldn't lay down a pass.

"I've been watching Jean Beliveau closely and I haven't been able to find his weakness - not yet anyway. But I know he's got one because every hockey player has one. If I don't find it out this season, maybe I will next season. Beliveau can skate, he can carry the puck, he can make plays and he can score. But there must be something he can't do. You study a player like Beliveau. Can he pass as well to his left as to his right? Does he have to turn to make a pass? Does he backcheck? Does he dig the puck out of the corners? Is he timid?"

"How about Rocket Richard?" he was asked. "What's his weakness?"

"The Rocket doesn't backcheck," he replied...

Phil had a scheme to impair Jean Beliveau's effectiveness on the ice of the Madison Square Garder, which worked for a while. "Every time the Canadiens came to New York I had the hockey writers ready for him," he revealed. "I told them Beliveau was the greatest thing to come into the league in years. If they were looking for feature stories, he was it. They'd go around to his hotel with their photographers shortly after the Canadiens would arrive. They'd ask him questions and take shots of him all day long. They never game him any rest and he didn't play his game in our rink. "But Toe Blake got wise to it. The last time the Canadiens came to New York he wouldn't allow Beliveau to be interviewed or photographed. That night he scored two goals against us.

"But he's a nice guy. He was in Quebec for two years when I was coaching the juniors. He used to drop in my office just to talk hockey. Not that I could tell him anything because he's just a natural and knew it all instinctively...I know he's got a weakness and I'll find it out yet.

It says here that the Rangers are still seeking their first win of the season on Montreal ice and that Phil is still trying to find Beliveau's weakness. They were beaten, 9 to 4, and all Beliveau did was score three goals.

Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated - 1/23/1956
Beliveau, on the other hand, is probably the classiest hockey player I've ever seen. He has a flair for giving you his hockey as a master showman. He is a perfect coach's hockey player because he studies and learns. He's moving and planning all the time, thinking out the play required for each situation. The difference between the two best hockey players in the game today is simply this: Beliveau is a perfectionist, Richard is an opportunist."

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Lloyd Percival) - 12/6/1960
Jean Beliveau, the smooth skating and clever centre star of the Montreal Canadiens, besides being an excellent playmaker and check, is a constant scoring threat who takes full advantage of any scoring opportunities that come his way. Whereas the average player needs as many as 9 or 10 chances before he gets one past the goalkeeper, Beliveau gets one every 3 or 4 chances.
One of the reasons the Montreal player has such a good scoring per chance percentage provides a lesson every young player should learn as soon as possible. Watching Beliveau go in on goal you will notice that he successfully resists the temptation to go in too close before shooting. Usually he shoots from 10-15 feet out, knowing that if he gets any closer his target area gets smaller and the goalkeeper has to come out and cut down the angle.

Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated - 5/15/1969
As Beliveau demonstrated pretty clearly in the Boston series, he is the best hockey center who ever lived. Others have outscored him. Others have looked flashier, but none has had his ability to be in the right place at the right time so consistently or to pass the puck with his remarkable accuracy.

Originally Posted by The Calgary Daily Herald - 2/11/1956
For years any controversy over who was the best player in hockey has been pretty well confined to right wingers Maurice Richard of Montreal and Gordie Howe of Detroit.

Now Bill Chadwick, former NHL referee, injects the name of Montreal's "Le Gros Bill" centre Jean Beliveau.

Chadwick said, "Beliveau is the best I have ever seen", and "smarter" than the Rocket. "You never seen Beliveau give the puck away. There isn't anything he can't do." Referring to his bullet shot, Chadwick added: "Some guys can put it through the building but miss the net. Beliveau never misses."

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 4/11/1955
Le Gros Bill was ill and weak in Detroit. He was ill from an adverse reaction to a sleeping pill, which caused blisters to form inside his mouth...He could hardly stand on his skates in Detroit and wasn't of much help to his team.

But he felt much better on his return home and in the last two games he has looked much more like the man some experts have labeled "the best hockey player in the league today." Dick Irvin credited him with sparking the Canadiens' comeback in last Thursday's game.

"The big guy was really flying out there," he said. "If he can keep it up we may be tough to beat."

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 3/25/1959
The best hockey player in the NHL today is Jean Beliveau, and you don't have to be a supporter of the Canadiens to come to that conclusion. We heard it from Herb Goren, the Rangers' publicity director, during a brief stopover in New York last weekend.

"Andy Bathgate has scored 40 goals, but he isn't the best player in the league," Herb said. "Jean Beliveau is." Yesterday Johnny Gottselig, who is Herb's opposite number with the Chicago Black Hawks, arrived by plan early in the afternoon from the Windy City. Johhny, who once played for an later coached the Hawks...

Settled in the room, Johnny was asked who he thought was the best player in the league. He didn't hesitate a second. "That's easy," he said. "Jean Beliveau. I've been around the league a long time and he's as good as any I've ever seen, if not better. Yeah I think he's maybe the best I've ever seen."

"He can skate, he can handle the puck, he can score and he's rough. He goes both ways, too, and lately he's become a leader
. I think he's been playing better since the Rocket got hurt. When the Rocket was around he was a little under his shadow. But with the Rocket out of there he's had to take more responsibility and it's made him a better player. I think he's just beginning to reach his peak now. If he gets any better, there won't be anybody close to him."

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette - 4/10/1956
Jean Beliveau played such a magnificent game that the Detroit fans cheered him when it was over. "I think he's the best I ever saw," said Murphy [Chamberlain]. "There isn't anything he can't do, and he does it all a little better than anybody else. I won't say he's a better finisher than the Rocket. You'd have to wait until he's been in the league as long as the Rocket has, and he may not last that long."

"He's a sweetheart," Wilfie [Cude] said. "Give him another three years in the league and I think we'll be saying he's the greatest of them all. I'm not saying he's the best stickhandler I ever saw. I can't forget what a great stickhandler Aurel Joliat was, Aurel was small and that was a disadvantage. Beliveau is big, strong, and has such a long reach that it's hard for opposing players to get at the puck. He makes great players, he's always a step ahead, he's got hockey sense, he does a lot of forechecking and he can score. He makes it all look easy, too."

"How would you compare him with Syl Apps," one of the reporters in the group asked. "Apps wouldn't come up to his ankles," was the reply. "But Apps resembled him in that he was a gentleman, one or off the ice..."

"A gentleman" somebody kidded, "Beliveau had over 140 minutes in the penalty box this season. How about that?"

"I don't care if he spent six years in the penalty box. He's still a gentleman."

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 4/25/1960
When you hear arguments as to who is the best player in the league, you never hear Horvath's name mentioned. The names you hear most often The names you hear most often are Jean Beliveau and Gordie Howe. If one of the debaters is defense-minded, you may hear Doug Harvey mentioned.

After Alf Pike had been back in the league a month as coach of the Rangers, he remarked: "What we need is centres. If I had my choice, I'd take Beliveau first and Little Rocket next."

Ted Lindsay says he means no disrespect to Gretzky and Mario when he says that Big John is the greatest centre that has ever played the game because the 205lbs swift-skating 6'3" pivot "played in a tough time, when checking was tough, where guys knew how to bodycheck, how to hit, you checked your man, you took your man"

Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix - 10/16/1953
The experts are saying that Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens' new whiz kid, is fashiond along the same type as Nels Stewart. Canadien coach Dick Irvin has a tendency to agree.

"He's quite a bit like Stewart," said Dick. "Stewart had a great shot and so has Beliveau. I'd say he's got the best shot in hockey today. It's fast and accurate. He's big like Stewart, too. Another thing, he's a fine puck manipulator...He can juggle that puck on the end of his stick like some of those guys in the one-arm joints can handle a pea on the blade of a knife, He's got the equipment to make it talk."

Elevated linemates, could play with anyone
Originally Posted by - 9/23/2008
"Jean Beliveau was just like an artist on the ice," Geoffrion said. "He knew exactly where I was and I always knew where he was. He was a natural in everything he did. He was as close to a perfect hockey player as you will ever see. It was very rare to see him make a mistake on the ice."

"Lots of people say that was the best line ever, Jean and Bernie and me," Olmstead said. "Jean was smart, hardworking, emotionally level and a complete hockey player. He was coachable, a real good student who wanted to learn. He could really play. He is at the top of the list of teammates that I played with.

"There wasn't enough room for both of us in the corner and somebody had to score the goals," Olmstead said. "I knew I could get the puck so I told him, 'Don't move from where I last saw you. It takes me three, four or five seconds to get the puck and it's going where I last saw you.'

"You gave Jean the puck in the slot and it was in!" Olmstead said. "We didn't have to do fancy plays, just bread and butter. If it didn't go in, somebody made a hell of a stop."

"He was such a great center, the best I've ever seen," Geoffrion said. "He was definitely the best as far as thinking about what he was doing out there, not just with me but with anybody who played with him. They had to have success. It goes both ways, I guess. I could put the puck in the net and he could make the plays."

John Ferguson led the American Hockey League in goals and penalty minutes the year before he was brought up to the Canadiens. He started his NHL career in 1963 on a line with Beliveau and Geoffrion.

"Toe Blake said, 'I want you to play with the big guy and protect him.' I scored a couple of goals in my first game in Boston and I was in the Top 10 in scoring early in the season until I nearly tore my thumb off in a scuffle with Eddie Westfall.

Originally Posted by
In the latter part of his career, Beliveau was often asked by coach Toe Blake “to centre some good young players,” like Gilles Tremblay and Bobby Rousseau or Cournoyer and John Ferguson. “I told them not to ever change their style of game to play with me,” he said. “Just play your game; it’s up to me to adjust to you.

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette - 4/22/1968
"Certainly you have a better shot with a curved stick," says Beliveau, who has tried the bent blade in practice but never in a game.

"But what would it do to my passing and face-offs?" To say nothing of his backhand. "You see, I'm passing as much with my backhand...50 percent to Gilles and 50 percent to Yvan," the 36-year-old playmaker explained.

"It's the same on the face-offs. Half the time I want to draw the puck back and you can't do it with a curved stick..." Does that give him an advantage over Mikita, who uses a Sophia Loren model? He smiled, "Let's say, I win my share."

Originally Posted by The Leader-Post - 4/10/1967
It isn't often a player can call his shots in a playoff game, but Montreal Canadiens' Jean Beliveau called the turn on the winning goal in Montreal's 3-1 win over New York Rangers Saturday afternoon to take a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven semi-final.

Beliveau told winger John Ferguson where to position himself to receive a pass that Ferguson converted into the game winner. "We were taking a faceoff in the circle to the left of the Ranger net," said Beliveau, "and Ferguson came out to replace Gilles Tremblay on left wing on the power play.

"Ferguson asked me where he should stand in order to pick up a pass that I would try to get to him. I suggested he stay out a bit in front of the net, roughly between the two faceoff circles. He did, and I was lucky enough to win the draw and get the puck onto his stick."

Ferguson praised Beliveau's strategy in setting up the game winner. "I asked him where the puck was going and he told me," said Ferguson. "Sure enough the puck landed right on my stick and I just let it go."

Originally Posted by The Windsor Star - 5/2/1963
The best year of Moore's career was the 1958-59 season when he and centre Jean Beliveau, who have never since played regularly together, went on a remarkable late-season scoring splurge.

That was the year he scored 96 points-the league record-on 41 goals and 55 assists, and Beliveau wound up with 91 points. No two players on the same team had ever scored more than 90 points a season, and none have since.

Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen - 3/25/1959
Bonin, in fact, is an amazing player. There is the inclination to suggest that only because of Beliveau and Moore is he able to play on the club, but then at other times it appears he more than carries his weight the digging he does for this pair.

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette - 3/27/1959
Big Jean Beliveau said that it was an easier game than on Tuesday night but that the Hawks still had Glen Skov checking him most of the time.

"I don't know why they kept Skov out there checking me in the third period when we had such a big lead. You'd think they would be out to score goals. But they can keep on checking me all they want. It leaves a bigger opening for the other fellows."

Physical game
Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated - 1/23/1956
Beliveau, for a time, was just the opposite, and, in fact, during his first year with Les Canadiens he acquired the nickname Gentleman Jean when it was discovered around the league that the new rookie had a distinct aversion to mixing it up. His former coach, Dick Irvin, noticing the change that has come over Beliveau during the last year, says of him now, "Like the other great players in the game, Jean was quick to smarten up when he saw the opposition getting the best of him. He'll never be the type to go around looking for trouble, but now he can be as tough as anybody."

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 2/13/1959
Jean Beliveau, who has continued to play well even when his teammates were bogging down, gave such a wonderful display against the Leafs that he had spectators goggle-eyed. Teeder Kennedy, the former star centre of the Leafs, was talking about him at the end of the second period.

"He's the best player in the league today," was his summation.

It was Big Jean who started the rhubarb in the third period when he hit Dick Duff from behind and slammed him into the boards. He was given a five-minute penalty for crosschecking.

This is to say that Big Jean is a better hockey player when he's a bit rough. There was nothing chippy about him when he first came into the league, and opposing players took advantage of him and chopped him down, he had to become more aggressive to protect himself. The year he led the individual scoring race he set a new record for penalties for a centre.

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 2/4/1955
The Toronto Leafs made a fatal mistake in the final period of the game with Canadiens at the Forum last night. They riled Jean Beliveau and the big fellow came out of the penalty box to score a goal and give Canadiens a 3-2 victory.

Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen - 1/15/1966
However, in talking with him [Bob Pulford], there's no doubt that he leans toward harsh hockey...As for Canadiens' Jean Beliveau whom he opposes at centre ice, Bob flatly rates him "the best hockey player I have ever seen," yet adds: "Beliveau would probably be even better if he had a nasty disposition. People would stay away from him."

Originally Posted by Joe Pelletier's Greatest Hockey Legends
Like Mario, Big Jean was an almost unseen blend of grace and power. He had the body of a giant, yet was such a gentleman. He could use his physical gifts to dominate a game, but more often than not relied on his skill and smarts.

Wild Bill Eznicki, one of the most physical players of his era, recalled what it was like to attempt to knock down Beliveau: "It was like running into the side of a big oak tree. I bounced right off the guy and landed on the seat of my pants."

Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen - 3/25/1959
The other was to get Big Jean Beliveau so angry he'd forgot about hockey, or leave the game through penalties. Actually it didn't materialize that way, although for a moment in the first period, it almost worked. I have never seen Beliveau as angry, and certainly angry enough to swing his stick viciously. It happened in a wild scramble in front of the Chicago net, and whatever occurred, Beliveau suddenly took a two-handed, axe-like swing with his stick at Terrible Ted Lindsay who, fortunately, backed out of range just in time.

Afterwards, Beliveau just shrugged it off, appearing to disdain even commenting on the incident. But he was plenty irked at the time, and only the quick intervention of the officials kept the fracas to a minimum...If it was the plan, and somehow I am inclined to believe that perhaps it was just Terrible Ted, it didn't work, and there were no repercussions thereafter.

Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette - 6/15/1971
"He's a big strong guy and he's got such long arms that you can't get the puck away from," [Ted] Lindsay said. "It's a frustrating job trying to check him. But he concentrates on playing hockey and there's nothing chippy about him. You have to respect a guy like that."

"I think I've got a good hockey team, but it lacks a Beliveau," Emile Francis remarked on one of the Rangers' visits here last season. "He makes a big difference to a team because he's a leader and there aren't many of them around.

Originally Posted by The Modesto Bee - 4/29/1968
Reay's strategy was to keep the Scooter line of Stan Mikita, Doug Mohns and Ken Wharram away from the tenacious checking of Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer and Gilles Tremblay.

The Chicago coach would wait until the teams were ready on the faceoff an then send out his Scooter Line, making sure Beliveau and his wingers were on the Montreal bench. Blake, however, would keep the gate to his players' bench open until Reay sent out Mikita, Mohns and Wharram and then he would send out the Beliveau line. Referee Bill Friday obviously annoyed at the juggling for position, finally refused to allow Reay to rank Mikita when Beliveau appeared.

Originally Posted by Sports Illustrated - 3/19/1956
Same thing with Beliveau (SI, Jan. 23). Even taking into account the continued greatness of Richard, Gordon Howe and Red Kelly, Beliveau is doubtless the finest all-round player in the game today and is beginning to emerge as a performer who can do more things and do them better than any other center in the full history of hockey.

Originally Posted by Sarasota Herald-Tribune - 4/3/1966
Jean Beliveau, the Canadiens' veteran center and captain and the game's offensive star with two goals, pinpointed skating and checking as the major reasons for his club's easy triumph. "Checking gets you the breaks," Beliveau said. "The breaks never come when you're just looking for them."

Playoff performances
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette (Dink Carroll) - 5/3/1965
Jean Beliveau won the new Conn Smythe Trophy and he certainly deserved it. He scored, set up plays, checked persistently and set the pace for his teammates. It was no accident that his linemates, Dick Duff and Bobby Rousseau, also enjoyed a good series.

Originally Posted by Saskatoon Star-Phoenix - 4/29/1965
Beliveau...has been a star in almost every game both in the semifinal against Toronto and in the final against the Blackhawks. He has 14 playoff points, including seven goals, has been a consistently strong forechecker, and has acted as the "general" of the Canadiens' awesome power play.

Originally Posted by The Windsor Star - 5/7/1968
Most of what they got Monday was news the Canadiens' best player, centre Jean Beliveau, is hobbling with a leg injury which will probably keep him out of action altogether tonight when the second Cup game comes up.

Beliveau was a superb leader in Canadiens' four-game rout of Boston and five-game dismissal of Chicago. In those nine games, he scored seven goals and four assists, and one game-winner and led the club in power-play strikes with three.

That made him the most logical choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy which he has already won once.

Originally Posted by The Windsor Star - 4/26/1969
The Bruins thought they were ready to take over the world. They certainly had the technical impedimenta to do it. But their time is not quite yet. Their greatest player, Bobby Orr is a stripling of 21. When all the chips were down at Boston Thursday, it was the great old pro, Jean Beliveau, 37, who raised his sceptre to the gods, not Orr, the great young pro.

Phil Esposito...missed so many scoring chances in the closing games, it became a conversation piece. But, there was a reason he missed, just as there was a reason Beliveau didn't with his golden goal in overtime. I was talking about it with Neil Armstrong, the Sarnia linesman who worked the final game. "The thing about those old pros," said Armstrong, "is they know how to take the time to be sure when the time is offered to them. Mostly there isn't time to make sure, but the young fellow doesn't have the experience to tell the difference."

It is strictly bad news for the St. Louis Blues that Beliveau is coming on his stick coming into the Stanley Cup final. Jean was unable to play any of the games against the Blues in last year's final because of a leg injury. Consequence was the Canadiens had to work like madmen to defeat St. Louis. They didn't beat them by more than one goal in each of the four games even though the Blues never looked as if they could take one of them.

Beliveau was dangerously active in back of the Boston net Thursday, a sure sign he's going to be a handful. Jean suffered a hip injury late in the season and it slowed him.

Beliveau almost retired during the down years of Canadiens' "Forgotten Decade" in the 60s, which saw them claim 5 Stanley Cups
Originally Posted by The Montreal Gazette - 4/4/1964
At the end of last season, Jean Beliveau, the great centre and captain of the Montreal Canadiens, seriously though of retiring. The year had not been a good one for either Big Jean or the Canadiens. Doctors confirmed a report that Beliveau had a small heart - an Austin motor in a Cadillac was the popular comparison - for a man who stands six-three and 210 pounds. As a result he tired easily.

Fortunately for Canadiens, Beliveau reconsidered. "When Dickie Moore quit and Jacques Plante was traded I decided I shouldn't quit," he said recently. "I didn't think all the veterans should go at once."

This year, instead of playing like a man on his last legs, Beliveau proved once more to be one of the best players in hockey. At the half-way mark of the season, he was the leader in the balloting for both the Hart trophy awarded to the NHL's most valuable player, and the centre spot on the all-star team. Going into the finals weeks of the season, he was locked in a fight for the scoring leadership with bobby Hull and Stan Mikita of the Chicago Blackhawks. Most hockey men agree that the main reason that Canadiens were a threat for the Stanley cup, instead of also-rans, was the outstanding play of Beliveau...

Beliveau is an athlete with so much grace that every move he makes seems easy. But in Montreal, no matter what he does, his fans fell he should be doing more. "Sometimes I wonder what they expect me to do," he says. This season he surpassed Nels Stewart, of the old Montreal Maroons, as the highest-scoring centre in NHL history.

Originally Posted by Ottawa Citizen - 9/18/1963
"I don't know why, but I feel better than I've ever felt at this time of the season," the Montreal team captain said in a Forum rinkside interview where the Montreal Canadiens are in training.

What this could mean is bad news for the NHL rivals and a badly-needed shot in the arm for the sagging Canadiens. The talented 32 year-old center hasn't had a good season - for him - since 1960-61 when he scored...only five less points than the league's scoring champion, teammate Bernie Geoffrion.

Jean thinks this may be his best season in 10 years in the NHL. "I've always been a slower starter, but this year it's different.. I'm in better shape and I'm skating harder and moving easier than other years."

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