Thousands of fans paid tribute to former Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Béliveau at the Bell Centre in Montreal on Monday, where his body lay in state.

The doors were open to the public between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Thousands of visitors paid their respects on Sunday as well.

The famous hockey player — a lifelong ambassador for his beloved Habs — died Dec. 2 at the age of 83.

He will have what the Quebec government calls a "national funeral" on Wednesday at the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal.

A bronze statue of the Béliveau has been on display in front of the Bell Centre main entrance since Wednesday.

'My idol, my captain'

Tributes poured in for the man who meant so much to many Canadians.

Béliveau was Yvan Cournoyer's first captain on the Montreal Canadiens. He went to the Bell Centre early Sunday morning to pay his respects.

"The week was so hard," he told Radio-Canada. "I hope people will come see my captain, he deserves it."

"Jean was my idol and my captain."

Paul Toutounji is one of thousands who spent Sunday morning in line at the Bell Centre. He said Béliveau was a role model who united people in all he did.

Paul Toutounji

Paul Toutounji is one of thousands who lined up at the Bell Centre to say a final goodbye to Jean Béliveau. (Tanya Birkbeck/CBC)

"He was leading by example all the time," said Toutounji.

He said he finds inspiration in Béliveau's memory, adding that Béliveau makes him a better person in his day-to-day life.

"For me, it was a priority to come today," said Tatounji.

Tribute in Quebec City

Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume has proposed renaming Coliseum Avenue in honour of Jean Béliveau, who played for the Quebec Aces in the 1950s.  

The Coliseum in Quebec City has also opened its doors to the public for the signing of a book of condolences.

The book will be available on Monday, before being presented to the Béliveau family.

On Saturday, workers at the Coliseum unfurled a huge banner on the arena's south facade to pay tribute to Jean Béliveau.

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