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Canadiens set to honour Jean Béliveau in pre-game ceremony

12/09/2014 11:05 EST | Updated 02/08/2015 05:59 EST
The nation turns its eyes to the Jean Béliveau tribute in Montreal tonight as the Canadiens play their first home game since the death of their most revered former player.

Before the Canadiens take on Vancouver, a ceremony will be held to honour Béliveau, the former captain and 10-time Stanley Cup-winning forward who died last week at the age of 83.

The Canadiens haven’t released details, but it’s sure to be an emotional night. Perhaps no team in sports puts more into these kinds of tributes than the Habs. The closing ceremony for the Montreal Forum in 1996 featured a literal passing of the torch between the team’s living former captains, including Béliveau, bringing to life the words of the In Flanders Fields poem inscribed on the Canadiens’ dressing-room wall.

“We will honour Jean Béliveau in the Canadiens way,” team owner Geoff Molson said last week.

Friends, fans and players paid their respects during a two-day visitation at the Bell Centre, where Béliveau’s body laid in state and the mourners included former teammates Yvan Cournoyer, Rejean Houle and Dickie Moore.

Also on hand was Guy Lafleur, a successor to Béliveau in the lineage of French-Canadian Habs greats, whose career began the season after Béliveau retired.

Canadiens and Canucks players also took time to visit.

Béliveau will get what the Quebec government calls a "national funeral" on Wednesday at the Mary, Queen of the World Cathedral in Montreal.

Habs come home

When the puck drops for tonight's game, Montreal (17-10-2) will try to snap a three-game losing streak. The Canadiens are coming off a stretch that saw them play seven of eight games on the road. They lost six, coming away with only five of a possible 16 points in the process. As a result they’ve dropped to third in the Atlantic Division behind Tampa Bay and Detroit.

Vancouver (18-8-2) is three points back of Anaheim in the Pacific race but still owns the second-best record in the Western Conference. Tuesday’s game in Montreal marks the end of a seven-game road trip on which the Canucks have gone 3-2-1, with losses to Ottawa (in overtime) and Toronto in their last two games.

More Canadian teams in action

In tonight’s other games involving Canadian teams, Calgary — the Pacific’s No. 3 team — visits Toronto; Winnipeg will be without suspended forward Evander Kane in Dallas; and Edmonton — fresh off ending its 11-game losing streak — is in San Jose. 

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