Jean Béliveau, the legendary, brilliant Montreal Canadiens centreman whose grace and leadership on and off the ice transcended hockey for more than six decades, died Tuesday night the Montreal Canadiens announced on Twitter.
He was 83 years old.
Béliveau leaves his wife and soulmate of 61 years, Élise; the couple’s daughter, Hélène; and granddaughters Mylène and Magalie.
They are joined in mourning by the hockey universe and countless people around the world whose lives have been indelibly touched and profoundly enriched by the man who affectionately was nicknamed Gros Bill.
Béliveau had been in delicate health in recent months, having fought pneumonia from August into September not long after having fractured a hip in a fall at home.
He had suffered strokes in 2010 and 2012, a decade after having waged a difficult battle with cancer in 2000.
“I knocked on the door,” Béliveau philosophically said two years ago, in conversation while recovering at home from his second stroke. “But it seems they weren’t ready for me.”