Doug Harvey (ice hockey)

Last updated
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
Playing career 19451969

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 he 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 five more 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 was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history in 2017.

Early life

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] Outside of sports he delivered newspapers, with one of his customers being future Canadiens' teammate Bill Durnan. [6] 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. [7] 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. [8] 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. [9] Initially he played goaltender, owing to his small stature, but soon moved to centre. Only later would he switch to defence. [10]

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. [11] Recognized 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. [12] In the spring of 1944 Harvey 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. [13]

Amateur career

Minor league hockey

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.

Football and baseball

In the early 1940s Harvey also played rugby football (later known as Canadian football). He started to play competitively while at West Hill, and though he could play both offense and defence equally well, he was most known as a defensive halfback. [14] He continued on with the sport when he joined the navy, playing for their Montreal-based team, St. Hyacinthe–Donnacona Navy. In 1943 Harvey was named the most valuable player of the Quebec Rugby Football Union. The Donnacona Navy won the 1944 Grey Cup as Canadian champions, though Harvey had been sent into active service and did not play in the game. [10] After the war he briefly played for the newly formed Montreal Hornets, but a mid-season injury forced him out. [15] Though skilled at football, Harvey gave up the sport as it was only semi-professional in Canada at that time, while hockey was fully professional. [14]

Harvey also played baseball at a competitive level, spending summers on teams from 1947 to 1950, mainly playing as a third baseman. [16] In 1947 he was invited to join the Ottawa Nationals, a team that was run by Tommy Gorman (who had recently left his position as general manager of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team) and competed in the Class C Border League. [17] A skilled ball player, in 1949 Harvey led the Border League in runs, runs batted in, and batting average. [16] He was also offered a contract by the major league Boston Braves, though turned down the offer as it would only see him play in Class B (another level in the minor leagues). [18]

Professional career

Montreal Canadiens

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 Canadiens in 1956.

Between 1955 and 1962 Harvey won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman every year except 1959, when it went to his teammate Tom Johnson. [19]

Prior to the 1960–61 season Harvey was voted captain of the Canadiens by his teammates. This was not welcomed by team management, who were not happy with Harvey's actions on and off the ice. [6]

Harvey was an outspoken critic of the hockey establishment who controlled players' careers via the reserve clause, which restricted player rights. In Harvey's day, players were not highly paid, with Harvey earning less than $30,000 a season at the peak of his career.

New York Rangers

Doug Harvey with the New York Rangers Doug Harvey Rangers.jpg
Doug Harvey with the New York Rangers

After the Canadiens lost in the 1961 playoffs, Harvey was singled out by Canadiens' general manager Frank J. Selke for the team's poor performance, and began to look at ways to get rid of him. Though he was still considered one of the best players in the NHL, Selke and the Canadiens had tired of his antics, and soon were in discussions with the New York Rangers about a possible trade. Muzz Patrick, the coach and general manager of the Rangers, had tired of the dual role, and agreed to take on Harvey if he could be convinced to be a player-coach. While Harvey was reluctant to move to New York he agreed to talk to Patrick, who offered a two-year contract worth $25,000 per year, a fairly high salary. After initially refusing, he agreed after a third year was added to the contract. [20]

He won the Norris Trophy in his first season with the Rangers, but resigned as coach after the year, citing a lack of interest. He played one more season with the team and part of a second before going to the minor leagues.

Minor leagues

After leaving the Rangers Harvey spent two years with the Quebec Aces of the AHL. He followed that with one and a half seasons with the Baltimore Clippers and a further half season with the Pittsburgh Hornets.

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. [21]

Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues

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. [22] 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. [22] 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. [23]

In addition, he was hired as coach and manager of the Kansas City Blues, which was the minor league affiliate for the St Louis Blues in 1967–68. [24]

Post-playing career

After retiring from playing, Harvey became head coach of the Laval Saints of the newly formed Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. However he only coached 16 games before leaving the team, finishing with a record of 4 wins and 12 losses. [25] Offered a role as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL he went there, serving out the rest of the season with the team. He was offered a chance to play for the team but declined as he was 45 at that point and had not played in over a year. [26]

In 1973 was hired as an assistant coach and scout by the Houston Aeros of the upstart World Hockey Association. With the Aeros he helped sign former NHL star Gordie Howe and his two sons, Mark and Marty, which was considered a major coup for the new league. [27] Though he had initially stayed sober with Houston, Harvey relapsed and was let go by the team at the end of the 1973–74 season. [28]

Personal life


Harvey married Usula Hardie on May 21, 1949 in Montreal. [29] It is not certain when they met, but they had been together since at least 1946. [30] They had six children: Doug, Jr., Darlene, Glen, Nancy, Diane, and Maria. [31] 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. [32]

Off-ice business

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. [32] In the early 1960s Harvey opened up a restaurant in Montreal, Chez Doug Harvey, with an associate he had recently met. [33] 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. [34]

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. [31] The school ran yearly until 1979. [35] 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. [36]

For years, Harvey battled alcoholism while suffering from bipolar disorder. In 1985 he was offered a job with the Montreal Canadiens as a scout. He died on December 26, 1989 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. [37]

Playing style

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. [38] He would then pass the puck to a teammate who would quickly enter the offensive zone and set up scoring chances that way. [6] This style of play was unusual at the time and Harvey was perceived as being a lazy player by both Canadiens' fans and his coaches. [39] That Harvey, who was roughly 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) and 190 pounds (86 kg) during his playing career, had a stocky look did not help this perception. [40] However once it became apparent what he was doing he earned recognition for his ability. [39]

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, and recorded several seasons with high assist totals. [6] With this Harvey led NHL defencemen in assists five times and scoring three times during his career. [41] 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. [42]


From early on in his playing career Harvey was recognized as one of the top defencemen in NHL history, and one of the best players in general. With seven Norris Trophy wins he is tied with Nicklas Lidström for second most all-time, behind Bobby Orr's eight. [43] He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973, though he had been eligible since 1972. Brown has said that the one-year delay was because of Harvey's lifestyle, and that he was asked to clean himself up if he wanted to be elected. [44] Harvey apparently took this as a slight, and refused to attend his own induction ceremony in 1973, and reportedly went fishing instead. [45] [10]

Prior to a game on October 26, 1985, the Montreal Canadiens retired Harvey's number 2. [10] In 1991, the Confederation Arena in NDG was renamed the Doug Harvey Arena. Efforts had been made to rename the arena prior to Harvey's death, but Montreal rarely renamed arenas after still-living people. [46] The Hockey News , the premier hockey magazine, released a list of the top 100 NHL players of all time in 1997, with Harvey named sixth overall. [47] He was also named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in 2017. [19]

Career statistics

Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season TeamLeagueGP G A Pts PIM GPGAPtsPIM
1942–43Montreal Navy MCHL 40000
1942–43 Montreal Jr. Royals QJHL21461017634710
1942–43Montreal Royals QSHL 10000
1943–44Montreal Jr. RoyalsQJHL13461034426810
1943–44Montreal RoyalsQSHL11122
1943–44Montreal NavyMCHL1541524531415
1943–44 Montreal Jr. Royals M-Cup 30116
1944–45Montreal NavyMCHL3022263146
1944–45Montreal Jr. RoyalsQJHL922410
1945–46Montreal RoyalsQSHL34268901116737
1946–47Montreal RoyalsQSHL40226281711124662
1946–47 Montreal Royals Al-Cup 14491326
1947–48 Montreal Canadiens NHL 3544832
1947–48 Buffalo Bisons AHL 2417838
1948–49 Montreal CanadiensNHL553131687701110
1949–50 Montreal CanadiensNHL704202476502210
1950–51 Montreal CanadiensNHL7052429931105512
1951–52 Montreal CanadiensNHL686232982110338
1952–53 Montreal CanadiensNHL694303467120558
1953–54 Montreal CanadiensNHL68829371101002212
1954–55 Montreal CanadiensNHL706434958120886
1955–56 Montreal CanadiensNHL6253944601225710
1956–57 Montreal CanadiensNHL7064450921007710
1957–58 Montreal CanadiensNHL689324113110291116
1958–59 Montreal CanadiensNHL614162061111111222
1959–60 Montreal CanadiensNHL66621274583036
1960–61 Montreal CanadiensNHL58633394860118
1961–62 New York Rangers NHL69624304260112
1962–63 New York RangersNHL684353992
1963–64 St. Paul Rangers CHL 52246
1963–64 New York RangersNHL1402210
1963–64 Quebec Aces AHL526364230904410
1964–65 Quebec AcesAHL64136377241129
1965–66 Baltimore Clippers AHL677323980
1966–67 Baltimore ClippersAHL24291110
1966–67 Pittsburgh Hornets AHL280992290002
1966–67 Detroit Red Wings NHL20000
1967–68 Kansas City Blues CHL59416201270666
1967–68 St. Louis Blues NHL804412
1968–69 St. Louis BluesNHL702202230
NHL totals111388452540121613786472152

NHL coaching record

TeamYear Regular season Post season
GWLTPtsDivision rankResult
New York Rangers 1961–62 70263212644th in NHLLost in Semi-Finals



James Norris Memorial Trophy 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962
NHL All-Star Game 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1969
NHL First All-Star Team 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962
NHL Second All-Star Team 1959
Stanley Cup 1953, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960

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  6. 1 2 3 4 Leonetti 2003 , p. 55
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Preceded by
Red Kelly
Winner of the Norris Trophy
1955, 1956, 1957, 1958
Succeeded by
Tom Johnson
Preceded by
Maurice Richard
Montreal Canadiens captain
Succeeded by
Jean Beliveau
Preceded by
Tom Johnson
Winner of the Norris Trophy
1960, 1961, 1962
Succeeded by
Pierre Pilote
Preceded by
Alf Pike
Head coach of the New York Rangers
Succeeded by
Muzz Patrick