Doug Harvey (ice hockey)

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Doug Harvey
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1973
1963 Topps Doug Harvey.jpg
Harvey on a 1963 Topps hockey card
Born (1924-12-19)December 19, 1924
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Died December 26, 1989(1989-12-26) (aged 65)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Height 5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Defence
Shot Left
Played for Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
St. Louis Blues
Detroit Red Wings
Baltimore Clippers
Buffalo Bisons
Pittsburgh Hornets
Quebec Aces
Playing career 1945–1969

Douglas Norman Harvey (December 19, 1924 – December 26, 1989) was a Canadian professional hockey defenceman and coach who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) from 1947 until 1964, and from 1966 until 1969. Best known for playing with the Montreal Canadiens, Harvey also played for the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings, and St. Louis Blues, as well as several teams in the minor leagues. He also served as the player-coach of the Rangers for one season, and served a similar role for the minor-league Kansas City Blues.

Born and raised in Montreal, Harvey played junior hockey for local teams. He joined the Royal Canadian Navy during the Second World War, and while he spent the bulk of his time with the naval hockey team, he did see active service defending merchant shipping. A standout athlete Harvey also played Canadian football and baseball at this time, though gave up on both sports to concentrate on hockey. Signed by the Canadiens he made the team in 1947, though initially he was criticized for his style of play. After a few years Harvey began to demonstrate his abilities, and became regarded as one of the top defenders in the NHL. Regarded as a team leader he was voted captain of the team in 1960, however he clashed with Canadiens management due to personal differences, which combined with his age led to him being traded to New York in 1961.

Harvey spent two years with the Rangers before the team felt he was no longer effective, and assigned him to their minor-league affiliate, and released him in 1963. Harvey would spend the next five years in the minor leagues, briefly playing for Detroit, before he joined the Blues during the 1968 playoffs. He spent one final year in the NHL with the Blues before retiring in 1969. Following his playing career Harvey served in coaching and scouting roles for a few years, but a serious alcohol problem developed during the latter stages of his career kept him from serving in any capacity for long. He reconciled with the Canadiens a few years before his death, having his #2 sweater retired, and served as a part-time scout for the team.

With the Canadiens Harvey won the Stanley Cup six times, and played in the Stanley Cup Finals a further five times. Individually he won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the best defenceman seven times, and was named to the end of season NHL All-Star Team eleven times (ten times as a First All-Star, once as a Second All-Star). Widely regarded as one of the greatest defenders in NHL history, Harvey was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973 and in 2017 was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.

Early life[edit]

Harvey was born in Montreal on December 19, 1924, the second child of Alfred and Martha Harvey.[1] Alfred was born in Hammersmith, United Kingdom in 1896 and had moved to Canada with his parents in 1905, while Martha was born in Pennsylvania to Welsh immigrants.[2] The family lived in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) an English-speaking and working-class neighbourhood of Montreal, where Alfred worked in the warehouse of N.C. Polson.[3][4] Harvey was the second child, following Alfred, Jr. (Alf) and preceding Howard and Mary.[1]

As a child Harvey was physically active, playing in many sports, and was also known as a troublemaker, often getting into fights with neighbouring children.[5] He first showed his athletic ability in Canadian football, and when he entered West Hill High School in 1939 he joined the team there, playing both on offence and defence.[6] He also played for the West Hill hockey team, and it was there that he first began to demonstrate his skills as a hockey player.[7] Harvey had played hockey from a young age, but only joined an organised league when he was 13, asked to join a team by Alf.[8]

The Second World War was ongoing while Harvey was completing high school, and in 1942, one month before his 18th birthday, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy, following the advice of Alf, who had already done so.[9] Recognised as a skilled hockey player, Harvey was initially assigned to the Navy's hockey team, which was used to boost public morale. However Harvey wanted to properly serve in the war, so requested a transfer to active service, though this was not addressed until 1944.[10] In the spring of 1944Harvey was assigned to a defensively equipped merchant ship; this was again a suggestion of Alf, as it meant a less rigorous lifestyle on-board a naval vessel. Harvey would spend the next year regularly crossing the Atlantic while helping protect supplies being shipped to Europe and Africa. Throughout this time Harvey's ships were never fired upon, and he would later look back fondly on his service. It was also during this period that biographer William Brown believes Harvey began to develop an alcohol addiction; neither of his parents drank, which was in stark contrast to the naval service, though Brown concedes it was only later in life that it became a serious problem for Harvey.[11]

Playing career[edit]

Doug Harvey with the New York Rangers

Minor leagues[edit]

Harvey played minor league hockey in Oxford Park, Notre Dame de Grace in his native Montreal, Quebec, Canada, then began his professional career with the Montreal Royals of the Quebec Senior Hockey League where he played from 1945 to 1947, helping them win the Allan Cup. He then played one season with the Buffalo Bisons of the American Hockey League. He made the jump to the Montreal Canadiens of the NHL in the 1947–48 NHL season and remained with the team until 1961.

Professional[edit]

Under coach Dick Irvin, Harvey was named to the All-Star team 11 consecutive times, beginning in the 1951–52 NHL season. He won his first of seven James Norris Memorial Trophies in 1955, as the league's best defenceman. In an era when the defenceman's role did not include scoring points, Harvey used his skating speed and passing ability to become a factor in making the Canadiens a high-scoring team.

He earned six Stanley Cups, all with Montreal. In 1954, however, he scored a Cup-losing own-goal when he tried to block a shot by Tony Leswick of the Detroit Red Wings with his glove but instead tipped it past goalie Gerry McNeil. McNeil was so crushed by the goal that he retired to coach junior hockey the next season, but returned to the Habs in 1956.

Harvey became an outspoken critic of the hockey establishment who "owned" players for life. In Harvey's day, players were paid a pittance compared to the millions being earned by the team owners. A superstar such as Harvey, who today would be paid millions, was earning less than $30,000 a season ($274,634 in 2008 dollars)[12] at the peak of his career while playing every game in front of sell-out crowds. Harvey was one of the first to help organize the players association which so infuriated the Canadiens’ owners that in 1961 they traded him to the then lowly New York Rangers. Harvey won the Norris Trophy in his first season as a Ranger. He remained with New York until 1963, and then played for several minor league teams.

In January 1967 Harvey was called up to play for the Detroit Red Wings in a back-to-back series against the Chicago Black Hawks. However he disappointed Red Wings management by showing up roughly 20 pounds (9.1 kg) overweight, and was largely ineffective in the two games, so was sent back to Pittsburgh for the remainder of the season.[13] With the Hornets he won the Calder Cup, the AHL championship, though the team disbanded after the season as the Pittsburgh Penguins were due to start playing in the NHL for 1967–68.[13] He finished his NHL career in 1969 with the St. Louis Blues. Harvey served as player-coach during his first season in New York but was never entirely comfortable with this dual role.[14]

In addition, he was hired as coach and manager of the Kansas City Blues, which was the farm team affiliate for the St Louis Blues in 1967-68.[15]

In 1964 Harvey, Gump Worsley, and Red Berenson played for the Montreal Jr. Canadiens in a game against the Soviet national team. Harvey played almost 50 minutes during the 3–2 loss.[16]

Post-playing career[edit]

Well into his forties, with limited education and no other skills besides hockey, Harvey eked out a living playing in the minor-pro leagues and with an assistant coaching tenure in the World Hockey Association.

For years, Harvey battled alcoholism while suffering from bipolar disorder. In 1985 he was offered a job with the Montreal Canadiens as a scout. Harvey's last Stanley Cup victory came in 1986, when the Montreal Canadiens were once again the winners. He died three years later due to cirrhosis of the liver, only a week after his 65th birthday, and was interred in the Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.

In 1998, he was ranked number 6 on The Hockey News' list of the Top 100 NHL Players of All Time. He was the highest-ranking deceased player on the list at the time it was compiled.

The government of Canada honoured Doug Harvey in 2000 with his image placed on a Canadian postage stamp.

His #2 jersey was retired by the Montreal Canadiens on October 26, 1985.[17]

In 1991 the Confederation Arena, located in NDG, was renamed the Doug Harvey Arena. Efforts had been made to rename the arena prior to Harvey's death, but the City of Montreal rarely renamed arenas after still-living people.[18]

In 2017 he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Family[edit]

Harvey married Usula Hardie on May 21, 1949 in Montreal.[20] It is not certain when they met, but they had been together since at least 1946.[21] They had six children: Doug, Jr., Darlene, Glen, Nancy, Diane, and Maria.[22] The family lived in NDG throughout Doug's playing career, though moved to Long Island during his first season with the Rangers before returning to Montreal after a few months, living in a house he built with his brothers in 1950.[23]

Off-ice business[edit]

Outside of hockey Harvey had several business ventures. After building his own home, Harvey and his brothers began a house-building business in 1953, and they later established an aluminum window business as well. Harvey, who was well-known for his hockey career at this point, would spend most of his time talking to clients, leaving Alf and Howard to do the physical work.[23] In the early 1960s Harvey opened up a restaurant in Montreal, Chez Doug Harvey, with an associate he had recently met.[24] The restaurant proved a massive financial failure, with his partner absconding with a large amount of money, and ultimately cost Harvey around $65,000, equal to nearly two years' pay for him. It also took a serious toll on his family's finances, which were exacerbated when he played in the minor leagues, making far less than he had in the NHL; on several occasions friends would help cover the mortgage to prevent Harvey from defaulting.[25]

Starting in the mid-1960s Harvey started a summer hockey school for young boys. He would lead a two-week school instructing them on how to play better, and would often buy equipment and board players who were unable to cover the associated costs.[26] The school ran yearly until 1979.[27] In the early 1980s Harvey was offered a job at the Connaught Park Racetrack in Aylmer, Quebec, as well as the opportunity to live in retired railcar that had been used by Canadian prime minister John Diefenbaker in the 1950s, and subsequently purchased by the track.[28]

Playing style[edit]

Prior to the start of Harvey's career, it was normal for defencemen to pass the puck off to forwards or dump it into the offensive zone; the goal was to quickly move it out of the defensive zone and limit chances for the opponent to set up plays. Harvey was not interested in this system, and preferred to keep control of the puck as long as he could. In this way Harvey felt he could control the tempo of the play, and felt that by quickly dumping the puck it only turned over possession to the opponent.[29]

Harvey's ability to set up offense helped the Canadiens create one of the strongest offensive teams in NHL history. Though he did not score many goals during his career, Harvey helped others score. Indeed, the Canadiens of the late 1950s were so strong on the power play that they repeatedly could score multiple goals on one power play.[19] Other teams began to resent this, and so at the end of the 1955–56 season the NHL adopted a rule that ended a power play after one goal was scored.[30]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1942–43 Montreal Navy MCHL 4 0 0 0 0
1942–43 Montreal Jr. Royals QJHL 21 4 6 10 17 6 3 4 7 10
1942–43 Montreal Royals QSHL 1 0 0 0 0
1943–44 Montreal Jr. Royals QJHL 13 4 6 10 34 4 2 6 8 10
1943–44 Montreal Royals QSHL 1 1 1 2 2
1943–44 Montreal Navy MCHL 15 4 1 5 24 5 3 1 4 15
1943–44 Montreal Jr. Royals M-Cup 3 0 1 1 6
1944–45 Montreal Navy MCHL 3 0 2 2 2 6 3 1 4 6
1944–45 Montreal Jr. Royals QJHL 9 2 2 4 10
1945–46 Montreal Royals QSHL 34 2 6 8 90 11 1 6 7 37
1946–47 Montreal Royals QSHL 40 2 26 28 171 11 2 4 6 62
1946–47 Montreal Royals Al-Cup 14 4 9 13 26
1947–48 Montreal Canadiens NHL 35 4 4 8 32
1947–48 Buffalo Bisons AHL 24 1 7 8 38
1948–49 Montreal Canadiens NHL 55 3 13 16 87 7 0 1 1 10
1949–50 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 4 20 24 76 5 0 2 2 10
1950–51 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 5 24 29 93 11 0 5 5 12
1951–52 Montreal Canadiens NHL 68 6 23 29 82 11 0 3 3 8
1952–53 Montreal Canadiens NHL 69 4 30 34 67 12 0 5 5 8
1953–54 Montreal Canadiens NHL 68 8 29 37 110 10 0 2 2 12
1954–55 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 6 43 49 58 12 0 8 8 6
1955–56 Montreal Canadiens NHL 62 5 39 44 60 12 2 5 7 10
1956–57 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 6 44 50 92 10 0 7 7 10
1957–58 Montreal Canadiens NHL 68 9 32 41 131 10 2 9 11 16
1958–59 Montreal Canadiens NHL 61 4 16 20 61 11 1 11 12 22
1959–60 Montreal Canadiens NHL 66 6 21 27 45 8 3 0 3 6
1960–61 Montreal Canadiens NHL 58 6 33 39 48 6 0 1 1 8
1961–62 New York Rangers NHL 69 6 24 30 42 6 0 1 1 2
1962–63 New York Rangers NHL 68 4 35 39 92
1963–64 St. Paul Rangers CPHL 5 2 2 4 6
1963–64 New York Rangers NHL 14 0 2 2 10
1963–64 Quebec Aces AHL 52 6 36 42 30 9 0 4 4 10
1964–65 Quebec Aces AHL 64 1 36 37 72 4 1 1 2 9
1965–66 Baltimore Clippers AHL 67 7 32 39 80
1966–67 Baltimore Clippers AHL 24 2 9 11 10
1966–67 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL 28 0 9 9 22 9 0 0 0 2
1966–67 Detroit Red Wings NHL 2 0 0 0 0
1967–68 Kansas City Blues CPHL 59 4 16 20 12 7 0 6 6 6
1967–68 St. Louis Blues NHL 8 0 4 4 12
1968–69 St. Louis Blues NHL 70 2 20 22 30
NHL totals 1113 88 452 540 1216 137 8 64 72 152

NHL coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Division rank Result
New York Rangers 1961–62 70 26 32 12 64 4th in NHL Lost in Semi-Finals

Awards[edit]