Jean Ratelle is about as perfect a hockey player as there as we have ever seen. His professionalism and sportsmanship are as rare as his elite puck handling and skating skills.
While his road to the NHL wasn't the smoothest, once he got there he quickly established himself as smooth operator. He split the first four pro seasons between the New York Rangers and the minor leagues. At one point while enduring a contract dispute he almost quit hockey to try out with the Milwaukee Braves baseball team.
Ratelle - a lanky centermen from Quebec - instantly was compared to Jean Beliveau. But he was quick to dismiss that notion.
"A lot of people saw my style as similar to Jean Beliveau's" Jean said in the book Heroes & History. "He was one of my heroes, but everyone is an individual. I don't think you can really copy anyone even if you try. You might pick up a little mannerism when you're a kid, but I didn't do that."
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