hockey players in hospital beds: jean béliveau, 1958

Aftermath, top, and beforemath, below. Jean Béliveau saw out November of 1958 by scoring a hat-trick as the Montreal Canadiens bamboozled the Detroit Red Wings by a score of 6-2. The win was a costly one for Montreal, as winger Claude Provost suffered torn ligaments between his hip and his ribs. Béliveau, 27, went down, too, victim of a third-period hit by Red Wings defenceman Pete Goegan. Béliveau, apparently, had a finger of his right hand extended as Goegan ran him into the boards, and that resulted in a rupturing of a tendon in the finger. That’s Le Gros Bill below, surveying the damage with Canadiens’ vice-president Ken Reardon. Detroit’s Gordie Howe went to hospital, too, with an injured neck from a hit by Doug Harvey, but Howe was okay, it seems, returning to the ice later in the game.

While Béliveau headed for surgery in a Montreal hospital, his teammates went to Detroit for a return date with the Red Wings the following night. That one finished up 7-0 for Montreal, with Bernie Geoffrion scoring a hat-trick and Henri Richard and Dickie Moore contributing two goals apiece. Jacques Plante got the shutout; Terry Sawchuk didn’t.

Béliveau missed six games while he recovered, returning to the line-up in mid-December. The Canadiens missed him, of course — they just decided not to lose in his absence. Then again, that’s what Montreal could do and did in those years. Béliveau finished the year with 45 goals, the most he’d score in a single season, and the most points, too, 91.  By the time it was over in the spring of 1959, he and his Canadiens teammates had collected their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

(Images: Fonds La Presse, BAnQ Vieux-Montréal)

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