Tributes to Canadiens legend Jean Béliveau pour in before national funeral

As the body of Canadiens icon Jean Béliveau lay in wake at Montreal’s Bell Centre, glowing tributes to his legendary character poured in from inside and outside the hockey world. Here are just a few.

As Canadiens legend Jean Béliveau lay in wake at the Bell Centre in Montreal – with thousands lining up for the opportunity to say goodbye to the team’s captain and a man whose ceaseless class and grace resonated across Canada and the community of the sport he loved – tributes from inside and outside the hockey world poured in.

Former Canadiens owner George Gillett was emotional as he described his connection to Béliveau, who passed away Tuesday at age 83:

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Montreal mayor Denis Coderre called the Hockey Hall-of-Famer “the best example of dignity and respect”:

And there were countless more, from former teammates, prominent politicians and fans alike:

When Béliveau is laid to rest in a “national” funeral on Wednesday at 2 p.m. E.T., all of Canada will stop to pay their respects once more to a man who deserved it as much as anyone.