Canadians are mourning the passing of a legend, as former Montreal Canadiens captain Jean Béliveau died at age 83 on Tuesday.
Béliveau was loved by hockey fans for his 10 Stanley Cups as a player with the Canadiens, but also by those outside the arena for his service to Canada.
"He was the perfect gentleman," said former prime minister Jean Chrétien, who offered Béliveau the office of Governor General in 1994.
Béliveau rejected it for family reasons, but Chretien always held the Habs great in high regard.
"Aline and I had him [over] for dinner when we discussed the possibility and we were like fans waiting for a star to come to the residence."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, a hockey historian himself, issued a statement and offered his condolences.
“Mr. Béliveau will be remembered as a hockey giant who inspired a nation with his outstanding skill, humility and pure love of the game," Harper said.
"His legacy lives on in the records he set, the legions of hockey players that he inspired, and the deep love he shared with his home province of Quebec.”
The Canadiens will have tributes to Béliveau over the next week and team owner Geoff Molson said the iconic figure will always be remembered.
"We're going to give all of our fans an opportunity to celebrate such a great man," Molson said.
Many people took to social media to react to Béliveau's passing.
- Hockey fans pay respects to Béliveau
- Dick Irvin picks Béliveau as greatest Canadien
- Béliveau put Canadiens ahead of personal glory
- Gretzky, Beliveau among Order of Hockey recipients
- Canadian astronaut Thirsk has space chat with Béliveau
- ARCHIVES: Jean Béliveau, hockey's gentle giant
One of the finest centres who ever played, Béliveau helped lead the Canadiens to an unprecedented five straight Stanley Cups during the 1950s and 1960s over his 20-year career.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre summed up the feeling surrounding the passing of the Canadiens legend when he announced that the hockey world and the entire country would be mourning this great loss.
Flags will be lowered to honour Béliveau.
Farewell Mr Béliveau, you were an inspiration for us all. A true gentleman. A role model, one of our greatest Habs, benchmark for "C" #RIP— @DenisCoderre
Record books can't do Béliveau justice, said NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
"No record book can capture, no image can depict, no statue can convey the grandeur of the remarkable Jean Béliveau, whose elegance and skill on the ice earned the admiration of the hockey world while his humility and humanity away from the rink earned the love of fans everywhere," Bettman said in a statement.
The NHL put together a video tribute in the wake of the news.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper called him a 'true legend.'
It is with sadness that I learned of the passing of Jean Béliveau. He was a true legend and a class act. My thoughts are with his family.— @pmharper
Former and current Montreal Canadiens players were quick to respond with condolences, and mentioned what a role model No. 4 always was within the organization.
A true legend has passed away. Honoured to say I wore the same colours as the man.. Condolences to the Beliveau family— @BrandonPrust8
Sad day in the hockey world with the passing of a Mtl legend Mr. Jean Beliveau. He was a role model, idol and the definition of class #RIP— @jgorges26
Players around the league were praising the legend too.
Sad to see such a legend in Jean Béliveau pass away. What a legacy he left behind, pure class— @Matt9Duchene
Canadian athletes outside of the NHL also had fond memories of the 10-time Stanley Cup winner.
Jean Beliveau was the classiest man.Returned every piece of fan mail with a hand written letter.nicest autograph in hockey. #ripmrbeliveau— @wick_22
The NDP leader, who represents Outremount, was the first of the federal leaders to pay tribute
Une légende s'est éteinte ce soir. Repose en paix Jean Béliveau.— @ThomasMulcair