Montreal says good-bye to the Captain Jean Béliveau
Jean Béliveau was an example to all : class, generosity, respect and availability. One of the best hockey players that played the game, and a human being that gave the best of himself. Most people under fifty years old have never seen him play but surely remember, if they met him, how good he made them feel. Mr. Béliveau knew how to connect and give someone his undivided attention.
Mr. Béliveau was there for Sun Youth from the organization’s beginnings. Sid Stevens remembers that Mr. Béliveau would call to offer hockey equipment worn by the players of “Les Canadiens”. As much as Sun Youth youngsters were thrilled to wear pants, shoulder pads and gloves used by their favorite players, most kids did not want to use the sticks but rather keep them as souvenirs.
When Sun Youth asked, Jean Béliveau never said no. He visited Sun Youth’s summer camp in Ste. Agathe to meet the kids and he often dropped by Sun Youth to support volunteers during the Christmas basket distribution. In 1988, he was President of their Holiday Spaghetti Dinner. For this event, everybody, from families getting their food baskets to volunteers and staff, were invited. One had to see the look on the faces of those approaching the table to receive their meals when realizing it was the great number 4 from the Montreal Canadiens greeting them and serving their meal. To Mr. Béliveau, every human being was special and deserved the same attention Mr. Béliveau was generous of his time : there was never too many people and it was never too long.
In 1978, Sun Youth’s Tommy Kuczyk was Captain of an All-star midget team that was about to play a team from Finland. As Mr. Béliveau entered the players’ room, he came directly towards Kulczyk. As 16 year-old Kulczyk stood up and looked up at him, he said: « I am sure that you were made Captain for you leadership qualities… ». Kulczyk stared straight into his eyes and, overwhelmed by the aura of a hockey legend, answered: “yes”, speechless. “When I made the Sun Youth midget team in 1978”, adds Kulczyk,” I was given the jersey with the number 4. At that time it was no more than a popular number. Today, it represents the number worn by a great human being who was and will always be an example for us all”, he concludes.
Sun Youth Organization extends its sincere condolences to the Béliveau family and wishes to express immense gratitude to Mr. Béliveau for having been there for the organization, for the kids and for the less fortunate. He will never be forgotten.