Skip to content

Hall of Famer Beliveau: “I was very happy when the owners were making money”

Dec 24, 2012, 4:27 PM EDT

Jean Beliveau AP

During the 2004-05 lockout, 10-time Stanley Cup winner and Hall of Famer Jean Beliveau made headlines by asserting that the players were “completely wrong” and making a “terrible mistake.”

After a mere seven seasons of hockey, the players and owners are warring again, but this time Beliveau hasn’t taken a side.

Still, he thinks there’s some major differences between how players act today and what they were like when he was dominating the league in the 50s and 60s, based on a Montreal Gazette report.

“Maybe we could have used agents in our time, but we played because we loved the game, for the friendship among ourselves in the room and on the road,” Beliveau said.

“The situation was a lot different in my day, but I was very happy when the owners were making money. That was the best security for our paychecks.”

Beliveau remembers making five to six times what his father was and he felt what he was “getting out of hockey was big.” Today, a players of his caliber can easily earn millions per season.

“But we loved the game. We were passionate about it. That passion and wearing the Canadiens uniform were the most important things, which is not the case today. If the sweater doesn’t fit here, another one might fit somewhere else. I can’t blame the players, trying to get as much as they can, but…”

Beliveau chose not to finish that sentence.

He still believes the NHL season will be saved, but he also didn’t think it would last this long.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” Beliveau said of the lockout.

  1. id4joey - Dec 24, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    Today’s players love the game, and are very very passionate about….. their money. They don’t realize that it’s a privilege to be playing hockey for a living. Chimera, Prust, Kane & Kane, etc etc etc… All spoiled.

  2. blomfeld - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:24 PM

    Mister “Class” Himself !

    In my humble opinion, Jean Beliveau was the “greatest ever” to play for the most storied franchise ever! With his skill, grace, strength and above all “class”, Le Gros Bill had to be the epitome of the “perfect” player. I only ever say him on TV and that was at a young age, watching him play out his final few years at the end of the 60’s. But I can still recall the game when he scored his 500th goal against Gilles Gilbert of the North Stars. He in fact scored a hat trick that night and every one of his goals was almost like “poetry in motion”. That’s actually what I’ll always remember about Beliveau the most … his ability to score goals with the skill, beauty, grace and lethality that in some ways not unlike a matador. Of course off the ice and since, he’s never ceased being a “class act” through and through and a terrific role model. I will always wish Beliveau the best and if Santa is reading this today, then please see to it man that you have a chat with Bettman tonight so that we can finally get going here eh! Tell him if not for us, then at least do it for Le Gros Bill ! :)

    Blomfeld sidebar: when me and my friends were playing road hockey back in the early 70’s here in Vancouver, we would always say “nice Beliveau goal” whenever one of us scored on a nifty “stick-handling” deke … and none of us even liked the Canadiens ! :)

    • missthemexpos - Dec 24, 2012 at 7:32 PM

      Like your sidebar, when we were playing road hockey in the mid 70’s in central Ontario, and one of the goalies let in a soft goal we would always say “McRae all the way” in reference to the Leaf goalie at the time…and a few of us even liked the Leafs!

      • blomfeld - Dec 24, 2012 at 9:56 PM

        Too funny eh ? … but such wonderful memories from those long ago days & nights out on the street ! Of course “car” was probably pretty universal for all of us, but man did we ever almost have our entire own dictionary …

        – “nice Russian goal” … anytime a goal was preceded with tic-tac-toe passing

        – “nice Lemaire blast” … anytime a slap shot was especially hard

        – “here comes Conoyer” … a condescending take of FH’s mispronunciation

        – “it’s a goal !” … a condescending take of the American play/play announcers then

        – “here he comes, dipsy-doodle-dandying” … well you know who :)

        such wonderful memories eh ? … merry Christmas friend !

  3. shortsxit34 - Dec 24, 2012 at 5:56 PM

    Kids get into hockey for their love of the game. Playing travel hockey, there is nothing else in the world that can replicate the comradarie and great times as road trips.

    But as soon as kids start being told they’re going to be the next great player and that they’re going go make the NHL, especially around Major Midgets and Junior, players egos take over.

    As a Kings fan, much as I like Doughty as a player, his holding out showed his true colors. He claimed to be a huge Kings fan growing up and to be so honored to be playing for the club, then what does he do: Hold out for more money. The thing that made it even worse was that it wasn’t about numbers with him, it was strictly about ego-he refused to sign unless it would make him the highest paid player on the team. He couldn’t stand the thought of Kopitar making more money than him and only being the second highest paid player.

    • blomfeld - Dec 24, 2012 at 10:15 PM

      I’m a King’s fan too friend and I completely forgot about that? It’s a shame, but that’s the day and age that we live in I guess? I just think back to when I was a kid and I was thrilled to just get a simple toy for Christmas, yet today kids are essentially demanding things like smart phones with “paid” plans, etc. I don’t understand any of it, but whatever … merry Christmas man ! :)

  4. quonce - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:47 AM

    The difference today is that the owners are crude businessmen that make millions, if not BILLIONS, in other ventures and this is nothing more than a hobby to own a team.

    Terry Pegula, one of these billionaires is on record as saying, “if I need more capital, I’ll drill another hole in the ground” Terry at least loves his team and community and is putting it back into the team and community. This can’t be said for all owners. See Jeff Loria for the Marlins. I use extreme ends of the spectrum but you get my point.

    Most owners make their money elsewhere. If theymake money on their sport hobby, great. If they don’t, as long as it isn’t hemorrhaging then they eat the loss.

    Jean is right in many respects. And as one of the greatest ambassadors or the game, I thank him for speaking up. But the players need to watch out for themselves. Agents suck in sports, but its a necessary evil. But these owners have the money, out bid each other for the services of the players (see Parise and Sutter and especially the Philly/Nashville powerplay for Weber) for most recent examples.

    Yes agents had a lot to do with it, but it’s the owners that allow it. Make no mistake, the owners won the previous lockout hands down. With little comprise in the big picture. They are now fighting the system THEY fought for and making the players the bad guys. Its been 8 years, and look at the mad rush the owners made in signing players before this CBA expired.

    I want hockey too, but I stand with players. Put yourself in their shoes. Let me take 20% plus of your salary in 2004, implement my system, abuse my system, then lock you out and want even more back in 2012.

    Whatever you made for 2004 I take 20%, now a want another (undecided) chunk today. And you know for a fact over the last 8 years my revenue has increased greatly.

    (Drops mic)

    Merry Christmas

  5. acieu - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    How do you drop your microphone when your speaking out of your rear end?

  6. quonce - Dec 25, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    acieu, please tell me what is incorrect about any of my post. did the owners not take 20%+ of the salaries in the last lockout, are the owners revenue graphs not charting upward since 2004, are the players not standing together to no longer be bullied buy rich suits?

    Please acieu, teach me if you think I’m incorrect on the players side of table of this has and is playing out.

    • duster1982 - Dec 26, 2012 at 11:05 AM

      Revenue doesnt equal profit. No matter how rich these owners are from other businesses, no one likes to lose money. No other league has that. You cant keep up that business model.

  7. barkar942 - Dec 25, 2012 at 11:17 PM

    “The situation was a lot different in my day, but I was very happy when the owners were making money. That was the best security for our paychecks.”
    “Beliveau remembers making five to six times what his father was and he felt what he was “getting out of hockey was big.” Today, a players of his caliber can easily earn millions per season.”

    Global economics have changed drastically in the last seven years. 2008 was not a “recession”, it was darn near a total global economic collapse.
    Although we all love the sport of hockey, it is just economically a needle in a haystack compared to the NFL, MLB, NBA and probably professional soccer around the globe.
    I, unfortunately, make much less than I did with my business in 2005 due to the drastic downturn in the housing market. I know I am probably in the majority of having less “play money” to spend on things like NHL games.
    Revenue can go up, but do profits? There is a huge difference between the two. The players must remember, as Jean said, “The situation was a lot different in my day, but I was very happy when the owners were making money. That was the best security for our paychecks.”

    Every player must also remember, there are thousands of other players that will take their jobs for much less pay, and be thrilled to do so. Twenty years from now, only a hand full of fans will even remember who Parise, Suter or Weber even were. There will be a whole new crew of players with all new stars.

  8. quonce - Dec 26, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    Barkar, I agree that profit and revenue are independent of each other. And I am to understand that while the league has been in the black on revenue, it has also been in the red on profit, thus proving that point. Still the owners drive the market price of these players in bidding wars with each other.

    With only reading two sentences, I feel I am in the same boat you are with the global economic crisis with wages and work related issue to provide, not enough to go by, so let’s say equal, still these owners don’t buy teams as their only means of income. These are crude business men who look to hold the team, turn a profit hopefully or not lose money and sell years down the road for profit. A very blanket statement but we would need many a beer to discuss each situation individually.

    Look at the NFL and MLB. Are the Dodgers worth what Magics investors paid, how about the Nolan Ryans Rangers investors, when Ralph Wilson,94, dies, how much for the Bills….the money is there is tv rights, merchandising, gates, concessions, etc. The rich who could care less about the sport itself will make money if they hold it long enough just due to inflation, again, barring a global economic crisis. But judging by the jockeying in the other professional leagues and the global economic reach of hockey, I don’t see that happening. And if it does, someone like the Brooklyn Nets owner from overseas will buy it up and turn a profit just like real estate moguls do.

    My point is the players stand more favorable for us commoners to side with because it was the owners system they implemented, they created the bidding wars amongst themselves to drive the price up with their system, and now they blame the players for it when the last shots fired before the CBA expired (poet, didn’t know it) we’re the Weber Suter and Parise deals which is just one of the things they are fighting against and won’t budge from. Gotta leave a bad taste in your mouth doesn’t it.

    And thank you for a non troll response that often comes on blog sites. Good rhetorical discussion is needed, we are literally weeks away from an entire canceled season….again.

    PS – No idea how old you are, but you said 20 years and most wouldnt remember who Shea, Gary, and Zach are. Alexander, Pavel, Eric, Jeremy, Niklas, Petr, Temmu, Jaromir and few others from 20 years ago beg to differ.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches