Saturday, September 10, 2016


In today's hockey world, agents, accountants, marketing and financial experts, and legal representatives have a say before a client signs on the dotted-line.

A new book from ECW Press written by Greg Oliver - Blue Lines, Goal Lines & Bottom Lines - Hockey Contracts and Historical Documents from the Collection of Allan Stitt - shows how different the process was in the past.

For example, one can examine the National Hockey League Standard Player's Contract of Montreal Canadiens legend Doug Harvey. The contract, signed on September 25, 1948, contains only two additional clauses. Perhaps, the greatest defenceman in his era, Harvey insisted that he receive a five hundred dollar bonus if Montreal goalie, Bill Durnan, won the Vezina trophy. The second bonus, also for  five hundred dollars, was to be paid if Harvey made the First or Second All-Star Teams.

Then, there is the fascinating documenting of Henri Richard's first contract with the Canadiens. During talks between Richard and Montreal's managing director, Frank J. Selke,  a page from an old desk calendar was used to record the terms and finalize the negotiations. Several days later, the details were transferred to a Standard Contract and passed along to the NHL.

The opening pages immediately grabbed my attention, as they pertain to Wayne Gretzky's career. The documents range from his participation in the Quebec Pee Wee Hockey Tournament to his time in Edmonton.

In a "Questionnaire for Players" Jean Beliveau wrote that his hobbies were "golf & women." The document is dated April 22, 1952. Tidbits like Beliveau's answer and seeing the documents are the fun and entertaining part of the book. The informative part and background details are supplied in Oliver's text.

Opening up this book and flipping from one page to the next is like looking through a family scrapbook. Memories are quickly remembered by the older generation and the past can be shared with the younger generation. The vintage look of the contracts and historical documents nicely shines through and captures the time period from when they were created.

Broken down into five categories - The Great Ones, Management and Minor Leagues, The Original Six Era, Expansion, World Hockey Association - there is something of interest for every hockey fan. And the timing of this work is perfect taking into account the National Hockey League celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2006-17. The content allows the reader to walk through the rich history of the game.

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