A star at an early age, he won the Quebec Senior Hockey League scoring championship with the Quebec Aces in 1953 then joined the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League. Three years later, in 1956, Béliveau won both the Art Ross Memorial Trophy as the league's scoring champion and the Hart Memorial Trophy as its most valuable player. During his 18 year career in Montreal, he played on 10 Stanley Cup winning teams and was team captain for five of them. A powerful skater, he had a polished air of composed confidence that made him a natural leader both on and off the ice. Admired and respected by fans, teammates and his opponents, he was the first player to win the Conn Smythe Trophy for his performance in the 1965 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Jean Béliveau retired at the end of the 1970-71 season as his teams all-time leading scorer and the NHL's all-time leading playoff scorer. He scored 507 goals and had 712 assists for 1,219 points in 1,125 NHL regular-season games plus 70 goals and 97 assists for 176 points in 162 playoff games. In 1972, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
After his playing days were over, Béliveau remained with the Canadiens team as an executive and goodwill ambassador while doing charitable work through the "Jean Béliveau Foundation" established in 1971. In 1993 he transferred the foundation to the "Society for Disabled Children."
Jean Béliveau has been given many awards including several honorary doctorates from Canadian universities, plus the Loyola Medal in 1995. He was made a member of "L'Ordre National Du Québec" and is a Companion of the Order of Canada, his country's highest civilian award. In 1994 he was offered the position of Governor General of Canada but declined to be with his daughter who was dying of cancer. In 2001 his name was added to Canada's Walk of Fame, the same year he was honored with his portrait on a Canadian postage stamp.