NHL pluses and minuses: Fans pay tribute to Jean Beliveau

Elise Beliveau
The widow of former Montreal Canadiens great Jean Beliveau, Elise, greets fans during the public viewing at Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, on Sunday.
(Pool / Getty Images)

Times columnist Helene Elliott rates the pluses and minuses in the NHL from the past week:

+ It was fitting that the family of Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau, who died last week at 83, allowed fans to share the final public celebration of his life. Beliveau lay in state at the Bell Center on Sunday and Monday while admirers paid tribute to a man who brought skill and dignity to everything he did. The NHL trophies he won were on display — the Hart, Ross, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup — along with a statue of him, and a spotlight was trained on his traditional seat a few rows behind the Canadiens’ bench. His widow, Elise, daughter Helene, and granddaughters Mylene and Magalie greeted mourners, many of whom waited hours for the arena doors to open. His funeral will be held Wednesday in Montreal.

+ Mike Babcock recorded his 500th NHL coaching win Saturday in his 895th game. Only Scotty Bowman (825) reached that level in fewer games. Babcock could be the prime free agent on the market next summer if he doesn’t sign an extension with the Red Wings.

+ Defenseman Sergei Gonchar, at 40 years and 236 days old, on Friday became the oldest player to score a goal for the Canadiens in the team’s long history. On Monday, New Jersey’s 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr passed Marcel Dionne for fifth on the career points list, reaching 1,772 after a goal and an assist.


- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford will be out two to three weeks after injuring his foot when he “missed a step” while leaving a concert last week. According to the Chicago Tribune, Crawford declined to provide details or say whether alcohol was involved.

- The Colorado Avalanche has been hit so hard by injuries that Coach Patrick Roy planned to have only 19 players in uniform for Tuesday’s game against Nashville, according to the Denver Post. Among the missing: goalie Semyon Varlamov, who injured his groin Monday for the third time. Calvin Pickard was promoted from the minor leagues and was scheduled to start Tuesday.

- The Arizona Coyotes, who have lost a franchise-record seven straight home games, stumbled off the ice too. “Nobody likes losing more than me,” owner George Gosbee tweeted last week, before correcting it to, “Nobody hates losing more than me.” Gosbee also said he’s “here for the long term,” but the short term is worrisome: the Coyotes are in a 1-5-1 slump.

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