Douglas Norman Harvey, one of the greatest defensemen of all time, was ranked number 6 in the Hockey News’ top 100 hockey players of all time in 1998. Harvey was born on the 19th of December 1924, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and played mostly for his hometown team, the Montreal Canadiens.
Harvey was the second of four children, a physically active child, and the neighborhood troublemaker. He started his sports life playing football and baseball in high school. Harvey later took to hockey while still in high school. He started as a goalie due to his small build then but later moved to play defense as his hockey career progressed.
In 1942, during the Second World War, Harvey was enlisted in the Royal Canadian Navy just a month before his 18th birthday. While in the Navy, he was assigned to the hockey team. Harvey requested for transfer to active service, but this request was not met till the spring of 1944. He was reassigned to a defensive merchant ship, where he helped protect shipments being moved from Europe and Africa. It is said that he developed an alcohol addiction during this phase of his life, which later evolved into a bigger problem for Harvey.
Harvey signed with the Montreal Canadiens in 1947 after his naval service. He soon started to display the strong defensive abilities that made him one of the best defensemen in NHL history. He eventually became one of the most celebrated and influential players in the history of the Montreal Canadiens. His run with the Canadiens was a very productive one, yielding six Stanley Cup titles. Though he hardly ever scored tons of goals, Harvey’s puck skills and dynamic play earned him over 30 assists in seven seasons with the Canadian.
Harvey set a record by winning seven Norris Trophies in his career, and was an NHL All-Star ten times. He was a dynamic force. Harvey was voted captain of the Montreal Canadiens in 1960, but this did not sit well with the team’s management, who didn’t like how outspoken Harvey was in his criticism of the reserve clause. The reserve clause was a part of a player contract that stipulated that the rights to players were retained entirely by the team upon the expiration of the contract. This restricted player rights and Harvey was not afraid to condemn it.
In 1961, Douglas Harvey was traded to the New York Rangers, where he won his seventh Norris Trophy. Harvey was a great help in earning the Rangers their first post-season berth in four years.
Harvey later went back to play for the Detroit Red Wings but only played two games. After retirement, Harvey coached the Laval Saints of the new Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but he coached only 16 games (4 wins and 12 losses) before leaving the team. He finished the season as the assistant coach of the Los Angeles Kings. He then became an assistant coach and scout of the Houston Aeros in 1973, and was instrumental in signing Gordie Howe and his two sons Mark and Marty.
• Harvey won the Norris Memorial Trophy in 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, and 1962
• He was a 10 time all star, and made the NHL first team 9 times
• He won the Stanley Cup in 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, and 1960
• He had his No. 2 sweater retired by the Montreal Canadiens.
• Harvey was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973
• He was named as one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history in 2017
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