Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens legend, dead at 83

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Jean Beliveau, Montreal Canadiens legend, dead at 83
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Hockey legend Jean Beliveau has passed away at the age of 83. 

“The Montreal Canadiens organization is extremely moved by Mr. Beliveau’s passing away. 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. Jean Beliveau was a great leader, a gentleman and arguably the greatest ambassador our game has ever known," said Canadiens president Geoff Molson in a statement.

“Jean Beliveau was part of the Canadiens family for over six decades. The Canadiens organization will bring all the needed support to the members of Jean Beliveau’s family, and will work closely with them to organize the ceremonies that will take place in the coming days. On behalf of the Molson family, and all members of the Canadiens organization, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to his beloved wife Elise, his daughter Helene and granddaughters Magalie and Mylene."

The man known as “Le Gros Bill” suited up for 1,125 NHL games, scored 507 goals and recorded 1,219 points. He won the Hart Trophy twice, Art Ross once and was named to 14 All-Star Games. In 1965, he was the inaugural winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy.

When we talk about strong Hockey Hall of Fame classes these days it's tough to compare them to the group that was inducted in 1972. One year after he retired, Beliveau went in with a class that included hockey greats Gordie Howe and Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion.

A star with the Quebec Aces early in his career, Beliveau showed little interest in joining the Canadiens, the NHL team that owned his rights. That’s when Montreal ownership decided to buy the QMHL, where the Aces played, forcing him to sign what would end up being a five year contract worth over $100,000.

"All I did was open up the Forum vault and say: 'Help yourself, Jean,'" said then-Canadiens GM Frank Selke.

It proved to be a wise move as Beliveau would help the Canadiens win 10 Stanley Cups, cementing his place as not only a hockey legend, but an icon in Montreal.

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Sean Leahy is the associate editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at puckdaddyblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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