The long-time captain of the Montreal Canadiens, Jean Beliveau, passed away last week at the age of 83. There is no professional athlete I have respected more than this man. He was grace in motion on the ice, and just as gracious off the ice. He has his name on the Stanley Cup 17 times, both as a player and as an executive for the Canadiens. This is a mind-boggling accomplishment, but what was even more outstanding was the character of Beliveau. Jacque Demers, former coach of the Canadiens, honored him with these words:
I don’t think the people are paying respect to the hockey player
or the Stanley Cups. They are paying respect to the man who lived
a life of no reproach.
I think that a major part of who Beliveau was as a person was due to his faith in God. He was a committed Roman Catholic Christian who was not reticent in talking about God’s role in his life. He truly was a Christian gentleman.
One of the greatest testimonies I have ever heard about any person was given by Ken Dryden, former goalie of the Montreal Canadiens , regarding his former captain. He testified that Beliveau
made every occasion better. Unlike many other great stars, his presence didn’t diminish others. It made others better.
His dignified presence would dignify others. He was true royalty. A real king doesn’t have to tell others that he occupies the position of kingship. Instead, his presence exudes royalty.
As Dryden eulogized Beliveau, the most appropriate response to the passing of the hockey legend is not to say “Good Bye” but “Thank you”. Thank you, Jean Beliveau, for a life well-lived. You honoured your great Captain in heaven.