Sports Bulls & Bears: Beliveau tribute masterful

 

 
 
 
 
Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

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Sorting out the major winners and losers of this week — with a bottom-line twist — in the world of sports:

BULLS OF THE WEEK

The loss of Jean Beliveau is a huge one for the Montreal Canadiens, the city of Montreal, the province of Quebec, the country of Canada, the NHL and the entire hockey world. Yet there was nothing more meaningful in the business of sport this week than the outpouring of love and admiration for Le Gros Bill since he died 11 days ago and the way the Canadiens organization and the Beliveau family responded with grace through the course of public mourning and tributes to the 17-time Stanley Cup winner (10 times as a player and seven more as a club executive).

The approach of the team and family was nothing less than impressive and elegant; much like the man himself. What was done for Howie Morenz at the old Montreal Forum in 1937 and for Maurice Richard at what was then the Molson Centre in 2000 was carried out on an even grander scale at the Bell Centre, which became the largest chapel on the continent Sunday and Monday.

The family's decision — inspired by Elise Beliveau — to personally welcome thousands of well-wishers over two days of public service was the ultimate homage to the way Jean Beliveau lived his life as a hockey hero and national icon. Who will ever forget the vacant seat, dressed in his Tricoleur No. 4 and under the spotlight on national television?

The compelling piece de resistance, however, was the decision by the Club de Hockey Canadien to acknowledge Beliveau's empty seat by forcing the end of their 422-game consecutive home game sellout streak by announcing an attendance of 21,286; one shy of the new capacity of 21,287 this season at the Bell Centre. Putting that touch ahead of protecting the longest active sellout streak in the NHL says as much about the way the Montreal Canadiens manage their brand and heritage as it does about the legacy and respect the organization held for Beliveau.

Full credit to owner Geoff Molson, chief operating officer Kevin Gilmore, general manager Michel Bergevin, head coach Michel Therrien, vice-president communications and public relations Donald Beauchamp and public address announcer Michel Lacroix. They and the entire organization handled this sad passing with complete class and attention to every possible detail. It acted like a family and a true community asset, with the club openly sharing the emotional experience with the community and the country in such an authentic way. In the dictionary beside best practices in the business of sport is a photograph of everything the Montreal Canadiens did this week to honour the memory of one of hockey's greatest players and people.

BEARS OF THE WEEK

This week's bears are winners rather than losers. They're good bears. They're teddy bears; as in the thousands of stuffed animals tossed on the ice at hockey rinks from coast to coast, from the WHL's Vancouver Giants at the Pacific Coliseum to the QMJHL's Halifax Mooseheads at the Scotiabank Centre. The seasonal practice first conceived by the OHL's Kitchener Rangers and now a staple of Christmas giving to underprivileged children organized by hockey clubs and other sports teams across North America. The teddy bear toss has become the poster boy for sport philanthropy at this time of year. Combined with adapted events such as diaper tosses and traditional hospital visits, food drives and toy drives, the teddy bear has come to symbolize the power of sport when it comes to community giving and fundraising.

Tom Mayenknecht is host of The Sport Market on TSN 1040 and TSN Radio, where he regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of sports business. He reviews the major winners and losers of the past week every Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.

 
 
 
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Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.
 

Tom Mayenknecht, host of The Sport Market on Team 1040 and TSN Radio, regularly rates and debates the Bulls & Bears of the sports business.

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun graphics, .

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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