One was pure grace and a polished playmaker, one was brute strength and scoring prowess. Between them, they won 14 Stanley Cups, eight MVP awards and seven scoring championships.
It was only fitting that on August 24, 1972, Jean Beliveau and Gordie Howe were both inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Beliveau began his playing career with the Montreal Canadians in the 1952-53 season. He quickly established himself as one of the game's elite players, in 1956 winning both the Art Ross Memorial Trophy as the league's scoring champion and the Hart Memorial Trophy as its most valuable player.
Beliveau would go on to play 18 seasons in Montreal, winning 10 Stanley Cups, playing in 14 NHL All-Star games, and retiring in 1970-71as his team's all-time leader in points, second all-time in goals and the NHL's all-time leading playoff scorer.
Howe broke into the NHL in 1946-47 with the Detroit Red Wings. By the time Gordie Howe's career was completed, he was the only player in history to have competed in five different decades. When he first retired in 1970-71, after 25 seasons, Howe had won four Stanley Cups, six scoring championships and six MVP awards.
After Howe's induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, he resumed his career in the fledgling World Hockey Association (WHA) with the Houston Aeros, who had also signed Howe's two sons, Marty and Mark.
Howe played several years in the WHA, winning their MVP award at the age of 46. When the WHA folded, several of its teams were incorporated into the NHL, including the Hartford Whalers. Howe came back to the NHL with the Whalers at the age of 51, playing in all 80 of the Whalers games, scoring 15 goals.
Howe finally retired again at the end of that season, becoming the oldest NHL player at time of retirement (52).
Beliveau and Howe have remained close friends off the ice over the years since their retirement, often appearing together at special events. In 1998, The Hockey News voted both players among the top ten greatest hockey players of all time.
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