Jean Beliveau

February 29, 2012 by staff 

Jean Beliveau, The golden years have not been kind to the legendary Jean Béliveau, who is undergoing “active investigation and treatments” at the Montreal General Hospital after suffering a stroke on Monday night.

Béliveau has been struck with an alarming number of health issues since retiring as a player following the Canadiens’ Stanley Cup victory in 1970-71.

There were cardiac problems in the mid-1990s. And in 2000, all of us were saddened to learn he would start radiation treatments for a malignant tumour doctors had discovered in his neck. This man, loved and admired by so many, who won so many battles on the ice in his 18-season career, took on his biggest one with greater resolve and courage than any game he ever played.

“I rely totally on the expertise of my doctors,” he wrote in a statement. “I intend to follow their instructions and recommendations to the letter. I feel good and I fully intend on winning this next battle.”

He won it, against all odds. He handled the radiation, although for a long while, he lost his sense of taste. He carried a bottle of spring water with him all day to ease the terrible discomfort of dry mouth, a condition that still exists. However, all through it he was still the smiling giant of a man, available to people of all ages and languages and colours.

His ability to charm others has never left him through good and bad times, because he is, after all, Jean Béliveau.

In June of last year, he underwent a preventive surgical procedure to repair abdominal aneurysms and required several months to recover.

Last week, he entered hospital with a severe nosebleed that finally was corrected after three days of treatment. Now this.

“He’s been going through a lot,” former teammate Dickie Moore was saying on Tuesday.

“It’s so sad. After all of the things he’s done over the years, after all of the charity affairs he’s attended the money he’s raised for kids, Jean should be enjoying life,” Moore said of Béliveau, who celebrated his 80th birthday last August.

Béliveau and Moore were fierce rivals in junior hockey, but have been the closest of friends since their Canadiens days.

“When you talk about the great players, the superstars who’ve played for the Canadiens,” Moore said, “he’s right up there with the very best. As an individual, he’s always been in a class by himself. As an individual, on and off the ice, nobody comes close.”

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