Douglas Norman "Doug" Harvey - Born December 19, 1924 in Montreal, Quebec – Died December 26, 1989 in Montreal, Quebec was a Canadian professional Hockey defenceman.
Harvey began playing organized Hockey at the age of 13 as a goaltender, put there because of his diminutive size. He disliked being stuck in goal, so was moved to centre. It was only later that he would be placed on defence, a position he would later revolutionize.
While Harvey excelled at Hockey, pundits will argue that as great as he was on the ice, he was even better on the baseball diamond and the gridiron playing football. In 1942-43, he was a member of the Montreal Junior Royals Hockey team, but as a member of Montreal Navy, Harvey was also the most valuable player in the Quebec Rugby Football Union. That squad won football's Grey Cup in 1944, although without their star halfback, who was serving his country during the Second World War.
Upon his return from the war, where he served in the Navy, Doug picked up his athletic career where it had been left off. He rejoined the Montreal Royals late in the 1944-45 season, played Hockey at the same time with the National Defence League's Donnaconas and also played football with the Montreal Hornets, the predecessor of the Montreal Alouettes. The Royals won the league championship, but lost to the Oshawa Generals in the Eastern Canada final.
In 1945-46, Harvey graduated to the Royals' senior team, and helped the team win the Quebec Senior Hockey League championship. That squad lost to the Hamilton Tigers in the Eastern Canada senior final. The next year, the Montreal Royals went all the way and won the 1947 Allan Cup championship as Canada's premier senior Hockey team.
Never fully satisfied unless he was exploring all his options, Doug also played semi-pro baseball with the Ottawa Nationals of the Class 'C' Border League in 1947. The team won the championship, although third baseman Harvey missed much of the end of the season as it took place at the same time as the Montreal Canadiens' training camp.
Doug attended the 1947 training camp beside a number of players with whom he'd played on the Royals, as well as many players he had idolized growing up. "It was tough going in training camp," Harvey admitted. "The guys in those days didn't welcome you too much. They made you earn your job."
Doug Harvey made the Montreal Canadiens, replacing Frank Eddolls, who had been traded to the New York Rangers. Doug was even given Eddolls' number 2 to wear with the Canadiens. Harvey joined a defence corps that included Butch Bouchard, Glen Harmon, Roger Leger and Ken Reardon. After debuting in a 2-1 loss to the Rangers on October 16, 1947, coach Dick Irvin very quickly discovered Harvey's greatest skill – the ability to control the temp of a game. Methodically, Doug carried the puck, at his own speed, surveying the ice landscape before he committed to any play. At first, it drove his coach and teammates to distraction, until they learned that there was method to Harvey's madness – the other team couldn't score if Doug controlled the puck. "I'm not throwing any pucks away," he said. "I'm trying to do what's best for the team. That's why I take my time and make the play." Because of this uncanny ability Montreal's superstar forwards could afford stay high and loosen up on their backchecking duties. This created the transition game known as fire wagon Hockey.
The first key to Doug's success was he was a flawless defender. Doug was so superb in one on one defensive battles that he would routinely steal the puck off the attacker as though he were picking cherries. He would rarely be beaten, and his teammates knew it.
Harvey was also the quarterback of such a devastating power play that the NHL and the teams owners decided in 1956 to change the rules and allow a player to return to the ice if his team surrendered a power play goal. At the time, penalized players would serve the entire two minutes of a minor penalty, but the Canadiens would frequently score two and sometimes three goals during the powerplay.
It took Doug a few seasons to assert himself as one of the league's premier defencemen, but by 1951-52, he was selected to the NHL's First All-Star Team for the first of ten times. The team was gelling with an abundance of great talent, including Harvey, and in 1952-53, the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.
The Canadiens dominated the NHL with five consecutive Stanley Cup championships between 1955-56 and 1959-60. The dynasty's roster remained virtually steadfast through those years. Montreal finished first in four of those five seasons with a team that included Jacques Plante in goal (winner of the Vezina Trophy for best goals-against average all five years), Dickie Moore won the Art Ross Trophy as scoring leader twice, Jean Beliveau won it once (1955-56) as well as the Hart Trophy as most valuable player. Doug Harvey won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's premier defenceman in 1956, 1957, 1958 and 1960. Teammate Tom Johnson won the award in 1959.
The Canadiens won an unprecedented fifth Stanley Cup championship in 1960. Following the championship game, Maurice Richard retired, and the team's captaincy was handed to Harvey. But he would only wear the 'C' for one year.
Harvey had become 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 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 on June 13, 1961 they traded him to the then lowly New York Rangers for 'Leapin' Lou Fontinato.
Although the Canadiens' management of that time claim that Harvey's trade to the New York Rangers was motivated by his age and flagging skill-set, Doug was never convinced. "It had to do with union activities," he stated firmly. "I was a First Team All-Star and won the Norris that year. You don't give away a player like that!"
Harvey responded by winning still another Norris Trophy as a Ranger. He remained with New York until 1963.
Harvey served as player-coach during his first season in New York but was never entirely comfortable with this dual role.
After that season, Doug decided he wanted to continue playing, but was no longer interested in coaching. The Rangers agreed, and GM Muzz Patrick also assumed the coaching reins. Doug's salary was increased to $30,000, making him the highest paid player in the league at that time. The Rangers finished fifth, missing the playoffs once again.
It was the beginning of a tumultuous time for Doug. The Rangers did not protect him in 1963's intra-league draft, citing his age as a detriment, and he signed with the Quebec Aces of the AHL, where he spent two seasons in the provincial capital. In 1965-66, Doug signed as a free agent with the AHL's Baltimore Clippers. Just before Christmas 1966, he was traded to Providence of the AHL, but exercised a clause in his contract that allowed him to become a free agent if he was traded by the Clippers. In doing so, Harvey joined the Pittsburgh Hornets, the AHL affiliate of the Detroit Red Wings. During that 1966-67 season, he found himself back in the NHL for 2 games with the Detroit Red Wings.
During the summer of 1967, the newly-formed St. Louis Blues hired Doug to coach their American Hockey League franchise in Kansas City. Harvey was once again a playing-coach, and the team made the playoffs. But once they were eliminated, the parent Blues called up several players, including Gary Veneruzzo, Don McKenney and Doug Harvey.
St. Louis was playing Philadelphia in the seventh game of their quarter-final playoff series. Paired with veteran Al Arbour, Harvey and his partner played more than 40 minutes each in a 3-1 victory to clinch the series. Next up were the Minnesota North Stars, and St. Louis eliminated them in seven games, too. For a second consecutive spring, the Blues faced the Montreal Canadiens for the Stanley Cup, but for a second straight season, were swept. Harvey's return to the Montreal Forum for the first time in seven years was laudable.
The following year he played all 70 regular-season games with the Blues before retiring for good. The legendary blueliner remained in Hockey for one more season as the coach of the Laval Saints of the Quebec junior league. In 1973 as an assistant coach and scout with the WHA's Houston Aeros, Harvey played a key role in luring the Howe family to Texas.
Doug Harvey played 21 seasons in professional Hockey, 14 of them with the Montreal Canadiens, including six Stanley Cup championships. In 1113 games, Harvey scored 88 goals, but it was his 452 career assists that most impress. He was named to the NHL's First All-Star team 10 times, and once to the Second team. Harvey also won the Norris Trophy seven times, emblematic of the best defenseman in Hockey.
Doug Harvey is perhaps the greatest all-around defenseman of all time. He was not as offensively gifted as Bobby Orr but controlled in much the same degree if only a contrasting style. He was not as hard hitting as Eddie Shore, but he was known as one of the most physical yet clean defenders of his time.
In 1984, fans of the Montreal Canadiens selected an all-time All-Star Team. Jacques Plante was chosen as goaltender, the forwards were Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore and Maurice Richard while the blueliners selected were Larry Robinson and Doug Harvey.
Doug Harvey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973
Harvey's #2 jersey was retired by the Montreal Canadiens on October 26, 1985.
In 1998, he was ranked number 6 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.
The government of Canada honoured Doug Harvey in 2000 with his image placed on a Canadian postage stamp.
On January 1, 2017, in a ceremony prior to the Centennial Classic, Harvey was part of the first group of players to be named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.