About Doug - By Red Fisher
More than five decades have passed since the Canadiens won the last of five consecutive Stanley Cups - a record which never will be broken. Jacques Plante was the goaltender, Maurice and Henri Richard, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore and Bernard Geoffrion were the best forwards, but Doug Harvey was the player mostly responsible for the team’s matchless success.
Starting in 1955-56, Canadiens dynasties in the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s won 15 Stanley Cups in 24 seasons. Since then, only two. If, however, I had to select the best team among them, it would be the 1959-60 team with The Rocket as its captain and Harvey its leader.
Harvey, a six-time winner of the Norris Trophy and a seventh with the Rangers. Harvey, the best defenceman by far in the century-old franchise.
What made Harvey special was that even while he was surrounded by a flood of superstars, he controlled the game on most nights. The players around him danced to his music. He could slow down the game on some nights, speed it up on others. And none could excel in the face of adversity to the extent that he did.
One night, in New York, Harvey was one of only three defencmen on an injury-riddled Canadiens roster. He played 51 minutes and was in the penalty box for four minutes. The Canadiens won, 3-1.
Ten days later, it was learned he had played for several weeks with a cracked ankle.
His greatness came from within. Outwardly, now and then he would infuriate coach Toe Blake and general manager Frank Selke, Sr. with what appeared to be a nonchalant approach to the game. Nobody, however, played the game with a greater passion - fueled by a healthy dislike for the opposition.
The Canadiens played in Detroit on a Sunday night, and their travelling schedule called for the team to board a Toronto-bound train at midnight, on Monday. Since the game with the Maple Leafs wasn’t until Wednesday, coach Blake called off a Monday practice, but told the players a bus would be leaving at 10 a.m. for a tour of the giant Ford plant.
The team left on schedule. Blake sat in the first row of the bus. En route to the plant, Blake instructed the driver to stop outside the Detroit Olympia.
“Hey coach, why are we stopping here?” Harvey yelled from the last row of seats.
“The Red Wings are making the tour with us,” was the response.
“Bleep that!” yelled Harvey. “Those guys were trying to take my head off last night. I’m not going on any damned tour with them!”
Harvey promptly rose and left the bus.
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