Waking Up To A Wonderful Email

This very special email arrived this morning;

“Your recent interview with Terry Harper was excellent. You are an exceptional writer. It was such a pleasure to read his comments and his thoughts on his fellow players of his era. He always was a down-to-earth, good guy. It is very nostalgic to revisit the 6 team era with memories being shared by the former players of that time. In the early to mid 1960’s I was a student at McGIll and saw many of the Leaf’s-Canadiens games as I was friends with Jim Roberts and many of the Leafs. I was the late Carl Brewer’s life partner.”

Susan Foster

I was really touched by this and so I wrote her back and asked if I could put this on my site. She replied;

Hi Dennis:

Yes, you certainly may publish my note to you.

You have excellent taste being such a ‘Habs’ fan all these years!  There hasn’t been a finer franchise in the history of the league and they certainly treat their former players with respect and dignity as well. I hope you never change elegance.

Best regards,

Susan

And about her life partner, Carl Brewer? He was a steady defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the days of the Original Six, with a solid career beginning in 1957 and lasting until 1980. He locked horns with coach Punch Imlach many times during the 1960’s simply because he wasn’t a slave to any master. He was his own man, and stood up for himself and others often during these days when players had almost no say whatsoever with management. Brewer also spent time in Detroit and St. Louis, was a member of the Canadian National team for a year, and even became player-coach of the Finnish National team. He was eventually inducted into the Finnish Hall of Fame, although he was Canadian through and through.

Carl Brewer was also one of hockey’s most intelligent hockey players. He was a learned man, scholarly like Ken Dryden, and when he was interviewed between periods on Hockey Night In Canada, you’d think you were listening to a university professor, not a hockey player. He was so well-spoken, so insightful, so original.

Brewer also spearheaded the fight against his former agent Alan Eagleson, which resulted in jail time for the disgraced agent who had defrauded millions of dollars from his clients like Brewer and Bobby Orr. Many players from that era can thank Carl Brewer for fighting the good fight for them.

A short biography of this great man can be seen here.

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12 thoughts on “Waking Up To A Wonderful Email”

  1. Carl Brewer;From what I remember was a hard nose defensman for the Leafs,you are correct in saying he didn’t put up with alot of crap from anyone.I don’t really remember alot about him as I was following the Habs mostly at that time.I remember him being outspoken to point where Scotty Bowman reffered to him as a “cancer” if I remember correctly.I wish there was more like him in the game today.

  2. Thanks Derry. Brewer was taking a real chance back then by standing up to coach and management because there were only 120 players and dozens more just as good waiting for a shot. So Brewer could easily have been vanquished to the minors, never to be heard from again. He must have had a lot of guts. You’re right, we need more like him. Brewers’ a player to be admired for many reasons.

  3. I read the book that Susan and Carl published (The Power of Two) about the trials and tribulations of trying to fight the status quo of the NHL and Eagleson’s NHLPA dictatorship. True courage is displayed by those who fight against all odds for something that they truly believe in (pension equity). I loved Carl Brewer as a hockey player, but his true legacy is what he and Susan accomplished in their never ending battle against the injustice of the day. Against all odds, to be sure. The anniversary of his passing is next week. All hockey players should take a moment to reflect on his importance to the game.

  4. Great writing leads to wonderful phone calls with ex-players which leads to excellent emails from exes. The best I can hope for is a beat down from the ghost of hockey’s greatest enforcer.

    It’s unfortunate that in the public’s mind, the blame is almost solely placed on the cheating, lying, embezzling crook Eagleson. People forget that it was the NHL owners that stole the former players’ pensions. Despite Brewer and Foster’s years of investigation and a court ruling the NHL still refused to concede. The league just appealed and sued the players back for exposing unflattering truths. It took a few more years of Brewer’s tenacity and a supreme court (non-) ruling before they finally settled and restored stolen money. The players deserved much better.

  5. Hey Chris;Well said my friend,I very much agree with your statement about the owners and the league stealing from the players,which is why they now have a players association,although this may have happened eventually.The leaves seem to have collected on the other side of the fence now,where the players(the ones who actually supply the entertainment)are being made to look greedy and selfish by demanding huge salaries in exchange for displaying their talents.The owners are still very much the greedy ones,and having a little “greed demon” at the controls doesn’t do much for their image.

  6. General managers back then were to blame too. In the 50’s and 60’s, owners gave the gm’s a certain amount of money to spend on payroll and if the gm spent less than he was allotted, he could pocket the rest. That’s why they were so cheap and hated to give raises. And if the player squawked, often he’d be sent to the minors. That’s why guys like Brewer, and Doug Harvey before him, should have statues made by today’s money-hungry players. They did all the leg work and the modern guys sit back and admire their Rolls-Royces.

  7. As much as Gary Bettman says he loves the players, he loves money more. But Bettman’s no different than the ones who came before him. The owners would never ever bring in a commissioner who was a players’ commissioner. They need a guy who is a businessman and who looks at the bottom line and no other. And people could say, “well, that’s just good business practice,” but not in the case of hockey and other sports, where so many love it so much and rely on these leaders to do it right for us. Hockey isn’t the Acme Tools Factory. It’s a business that’s part of us and should be treated accordingly. The guys who paved the way, the Brewers and Harveys and Lindsays, they’re heros. And as a footnote, when Gordie Howe was approached to get in with the union stuff, he bowed out and more or less stayed by management’s side.

  8. Wow Dennis, how cool is it to receive a classy email like that? Congrats and you are a really good writer. Keep ‘em coming!

  9. Yes I remember that Mr. Hockey himself wanted to support the owners side of things.I think more then anything he was a little bit nieve on all the facts and figures,now he is doing his best to get the most out of the nhl as well as charging fans for his autograph and photo,not cool.

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