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'Priceless' photo signed by Béliveau stolen at Quebec peewee hockey tournament

Jean Béliveau Jean Béliveau - The Canadian Press

QUEBEC — The theft of a treasured peewee hockey souvenir is dampening the mood at a popular competition in Quebec City.

For years, a signed photo of Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Béliveau has figured prominently in the Quebec International Peewee Hockey Tournament museum, hanging proudly above dozens of other photos, sculptures and relics of notable players.

But as youth hockey stars clashed in the Videotron Centre on Sunday evening, the more than 60-year-old photo of Béliveau taking part in an event at the tournament's inauguration went missing.

"It has been an artifact of the peewee tournament for years, and it's priceless in its own right," tournament director Patrick Dom said in an interview Wednesday. "I'm weighing my words when I say what we think of this act," he continued. "It's absolutely unfortunate."

Dom said tournament management reported the theft to the Quebec City police department, which has confirmed it is investigating. A police spokesperson declined to comment on the progress of the investigation Wednesday, saying the process is confidential.

Dom is hoping for the swift return of the photo to the museum of memorabilia, an annual pop-up gallery in the Videotron Centre owned and operated by a longtime tournament volunteer.

"Of course it's still a crime, it's still theft, but in the depths of our convictions, all we want to do is find the picture," Dom said.

Béliveau, who died in 2014, played for the Canadiens between 1950 and 1971, winning 10 Stanley Cups before joining the team's management as executive vice-president.

Tournament management is asking anyone with knowledge of the photo's whereabouts to contact them or local police.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 14, 2024.