Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Merci, M. Beliveau

I admit I'm more tech-addicted than I'd like to be, and I have difficulty turning it all off. To wit, the first thing I do every morning is reach for my BlackBerry and quickly read off the morning's headlines. I don't even have to unlock the phone to see what I missed while I was sleeping, as the lock screen displays snippets of key tweets, messages and other data bits that may or may not shape the day to come.

This morning's screen was filled with news I had been dreading for some time: Montreal Canadiens hockey great Jean Beliveau had passed away at the age of 83. He had been sick for some time, but still, it's hard to believe he is gone.

Growing up in Montreal, it's difficult to escape the ethos of the Canadiens. It isn't just a hockey team. It's a dynasty, a generational marker, a near-religion for some. You don't simply watch a game. Instead, you're part of the experience, the Bell Centre arena - as the Forum before it - serving as something of an altar to those who worship. You feel it more than you see it, and it becomes part of your personal fabric, inextricably woven into your character no matter where your life may ultimately take you.

And Jean Beliveau exemplified the gentlemanly class of an organization that has no peer. Long after he retired from the game he so defined, he was the team's goodwill ambassador. He was a fixture at community events, and countless Montrealers have stories of him moving crossing their paths and leaving an indelible impression. You didn't have to be a hockey fan to appreciate what an giant of a human being he was.

They don't make them like him anymore, and the world is that much dimmer with his passing. Thank you, M. Beliveau, for never losing sight of who you were, and for setting the bar so incredibly high for the rest of us.

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