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Dick Irvin picks Jean Béliveau as greatest Canadiens player

12/03/2014 01:59 EST | Updated 02/01/2015 05:59 EST
Whether he was watching the Montreal Canadiens from the bench when his father coached the team or broadcasting their games with the late Danny Gallivan, no one followed the team closer than Dick Irvin.

In 2008, Irvin was inducted into the CBC Sports Hall of Fame for a broadcasting career that spanned 33 years (1966-1999) with Hockey Night In Canada — a tenure surpassed only by Bob Cole. In that time, he covered many of Montreal's remarkable Stanley Cup victories.

Shortly after his induction, CBCSports.ca caught up with Irvin to discuss several topics concerning the Canadiens.

One, specifically, caught us off guard.

When we asked the legendary broadcaster to share his greatest Habs players, Irvin went with the classiest player he’s ever seen — Jean Béliveau — at No. 1.

In honour of Le Gros Bill, who died at 83 on Tuesday night, we once again offer Dick's top-5 Canadiens:

- 1. Jean Béliveau — "He was a classic leader, as well as a great hockey player."

- 2. Maurice Richard — "Most exciting player who ever played the game."

- 3. Guy Lafleur — "The thing I remember most is that he gave it 100 per cent every game, every night and every season during that stretch when he was the best hockey player in the world."

- 4. Howie Morenz — "He was the superstar of his era. His name sold tickets, he won Stanley Cups and for a period of approximately 10 years, he was the best player the Canadiens ever had to that point."

- 5. Jacques Plante — "He was a wonderful goaltender and he revolutionized hockey. The game still owes him for [introducing the goalie mask]."

Now we ask you? 

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