Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Jean Beliveau Day; March 24, 1971

On Wednesday, March 24, 1971 the Montreal Canadiens held a Jean Beliveau Day prior to that evening's match with the Philadelphia Flyers. Their captain was winding down his illustrious career and this was fourth-to-last regular season home game. Beliveau and the Canadiens would of course extend his career and the season all the way to a Stanley Cup victory of Chicago almost two months later. This night however, was Beliveau's special one.

"I must admit," Beliveau said, "For one of the few times in my career, my mind wasn't on hockey the past few days. I found the first period quite difficult but started getting back into the game in the second and third periods." Montreal beat the Flyers 5-3 and Beliveau assisted on Montreal's second goal, the 15th of the year from John Ferguson. Ferguson commented on the goal, "I had a lot of time and a lot of room. But when you get a pass like that from Jean it makes a difference."

Prior to the game there was a 32 minute on-ice ceremony emceed by Radio Canada broadcaster, Rene Lecavalier. During the events Beliveau was presented with a cheque of $155,855 to the Jean Beliveau Fund for Underprivileged Children which he called, "The highest and best thing that could happen to any man. It's the greatest mark of esteem they could have given me." The cheque was delivered by three of his former coaches, Punch Imlach, Toe Blake and Rollie Hebert. (below) Beliveau commented on the generosity afterwards, "The donations to the Fund really surprised me, especially since money is hard to come by these days."  

Donations to the Fund were given by, among others; $5000 each from the Quebec Government, NHL Oldtimers and the Canadiens themselves, $7000 from Molson's Brewery and $4000 from Colonel Sanders Foundation. Beliveau would be presented a litany of other gifts as well. His teammates presented a silver bowl and team Management gave him a gold and silver mounting of Beliveau's 500th goal puck.

On top of this the Hockey Night in Canada crew represented by Danny Gallivan gave Jean a bronze statue of the milestone 500th goal and the Flyers Captain Ed Van Impe presented a silver tray. Jean, his wife Elise and daughter Helene were also given plane tickets to Paris, tickets to the 1972 Munich Olympics and finally a trip to Guadeloupe for a Caribbean holiday.  

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