Canadiens great Beliveau honored in Montreal

Updated: March 30, 2007, 8:02 AM ET
Associated Press

MONTREAL -- Many former NHL greats and Prime Minister Stephen Harper turned out Thursday night to honor legendary Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Beliveau.

The Bell Centre was transformed into a giant dining hall filled with tuxedo-clad hockey stars, politicians past and present and many members of the business community to pay tribute to the 75-year-old Beliveau.

"It's hard to have the right words to describe it," Beliveau said before the event. "I've been retired from hockey for 35 or 36 years and I'm always amazed to have so many invitations and having nights like this."

Former Detroit Red Wing Gordie Howe, ex-Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Johnny Bower, former New York Ranger Rod Gilbert and former Leafs and Wings star Red Kelly, as well as dozens of former Montreal Canadiens were on hand.

Beliveau retired after the Canadiens won the 1971 Stanley Cup. For 18 seasons, he had been one of the NHL's most dominant players, suiting up for 10 Stanley Cup championship teams.

The tall center scored 507 goals and had 1,219 points, but was known as much for his natural leadership and gracious personality as for his hockey exploits.

After his retirement, Beliveau worked in the Canadiens front office for years, but always had time for charity work, particularly for children's causes.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press