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March 9, 2014
LCS Top 100: No. 8
by Michael Menser Dell, Editor-in-Chief
Perhaps the best one-on-one defender in NHL history, Harvey could destroy on-rushing forwards with crisp hip checks or merely pick their pockets and send his teammates the other way with a flick of the wrists. When nothing was available, Harvey would just rag the puck in his own zone and wait for an opening before either firing a lead pass or racing up ice on his own, helping revolutionize the way defensemen played the position.
Harvey controlled games at will, slowing the pace when his team needed composure and accelerating the tempo when the score called for aggressiveness. Harvey's brilliance earned him seven Norris Trophies and saw him named a 1st-Team All-Star 10 times.
During his 14 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, Harvey served as team captain and helped lead the Habs to six Stanley Cups. With Harvey quarterbacking the power play, Montreal's man-advantage was so dominant it would often produce two or three goals during a two-minute penalty, prompting the league to change the rules and limit teams to a single power-play goal per minor penalty.
Harvey's efforts to try and organize a union infuriated Canadiens management and brought his time in Montreal to an abrupt end. In 1961, the Habs banished Harvey to the last-place New York Rangers. Big deal. It only added to Harvey's legend. Not only did he win his seventh Norris Trophy in his first year with the Blueshirts, he did so while serving as a player-coach and guiding the Rangers to their first playoff appearance in four years.
Harvey gave up the coaching gig the next season and returned to being a humble defenseman for two more campaigns with the Rangers before retiring from the NHL. But the 39-year-old Harvey couldn't shake hockey and kept playing in the AHL for the Quebec Aces and Baltimore Clippers. In 1966-67, Harvey made a brief return to the NHL, appearing in two games with the Red Wings. The following season, Harvey joined the expansion St. Louis Blues for the playoffs and helped lead them to the Stanley Cup Finals where they got swept by the Canadiens. He played one more full season with the Blues before hanging up the skates for good in 1969.