Eagleson: The Fall of a Hockey Czar


474 words

Title: Eagleson: The Fall of a Hockey Czar;  by William Houston
and David Shoalts; McGraw-Hill Ryerson; ISBN: ISBN 0-07-551706-X; 
Hardcover,  238 pages, $27.95

Reviewer:  A. T. Connellan, "The authors tried hard, but the 
Eagle still soars" 

The Eagle flew with vultures

Timeliness is next to godliness in the book biz. Publishers dream of hitting the market at the most propitious moment. What 
serendipitous timing, Eagleson the book, meet Eagleson the 
Grand Jury indictee. 

As the authors point out, at one time, the NHL was derisively known 
as the "Norris House League." The owners, with few exceptions, were 
people that not even a Mafia Don would invite to his daughter's 
wedding. Through their ownership of the buildings and the players, 
professional hockey was their private game. In the 1960's, they were 
unprepared when a shark invaded their school of barracuda. His 
name was R. Alan Eagleson. 

There are three kinds of people in this world, those who make things 
happen, those who let things happen, and those who don't know 
what's happening. Alan Eagleson is in group 1, and that really bothers 
some folks in groups 2 and 3.
That explains this William Houston and David Shoalts anti-Eagleson 
critique. It's full of assumption and innuendo. Occasionally they try to 
climb on the fairness bandwagon, but keep falling off the tailgate, 
and back into the manure. 

The authors are wanting in logic; for instance they question the 
investment by Eagleson of NHLPA funds in "interest only" mortgages. 
So what? Provided the security is on par, these mortgages are as 
safe as any other, and have the advantage of reducing the cost to 
the lender of re-investing the cash flow. The yield can be further 
improved by letting the borrower accrue the interest and compound it. 
These two tread water in many other areas as well. 

Nearly everyone has an opinion, pro or con about Eagleson, but no 
one argues the fact that "The Eagle" flies. From 1967 to 1991; he 
founded the National Hockey League Players Association, 
represented over 150 professional hockey players and brought 
Canada into international hockey competition at a level of 
excellence never experienced before. Where were you when 
Paul Henderson scored? 

It isn't Eagleson's record in dispute, it's his method that has some 
people whining. He calls a spade a shovel, and uses profanity 
as verbal punctuation. He pushes, he pulls, and sometimes he 
bullies, but he gets results and some people can't handle that. 
No matter what Bobby Orr or the litigious Carl Brewer, or any of 
the others think or say, off ice "The Eagle" taught them to soar. 

I suspect that at the end of the final period, most of us will agree 
that Eagleson's villainy hasn't exceeded anyone elses. It's all 
part of pro sport, a very nasty business, where even figure 
skating has become a "physical game." 

I don't know who put Houston and Shoalts up to this hatchet job, 
but the rule is, if you can't "swing it," don't pick up the axe. 

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