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Doug Harvey remembered as one of NHL's best

MONTREAL -- Teammates called him hockey's best defenseman. The president of the NHL said he brought a new dimension to his position.

Doug Harvey, a seven-time winner of the Norris Trophy as the NHL's premier defenseman, died Tuesday at age 65 from cirrhosis of the liver. His funeral is Friday in Montreal's Trinity Anglican Church.

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Harvey spent 14 of his 20 NHL seasons with Montreal and played on six Stanley Cup teams with Canadiens. The Montreal native worked as a scout for the club before being hospitalized more than a year ago.

He was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1973, and Montreal retired his jersey No. 2. The team Wednesday had no immediate comment on plans to honor him.

Former Montreal teammate Dick Moore said Harvey was the 'greatest defenseman who ever played.' He called Harvey a 'great leader who held the team together' and a player who 'shared his skills with everyone.'

NHL President John Ziegler said Harvey was 'one of the game's truly great performers and contributors who brought a new dimension to his position and to the game.'

Harvey entered the league in the 1947-48 season. He also played for the New York Rangers, Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues before retiring after the 1968-1969 season. In 1968, at age 43, he led the expansion St. Louis Blues to the Stanley Cup finals.

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Harvey was named to the NHL's first or second All-Star team in 11 consecutive seasons, the most by any NHL defenseman. In 1,113 games, he had 88 goals and 452 assists for 540 points.

Harvey, whose military-style hair cut suited his efficient, no-nonsense approach to the game, pioneered the technique of 'headmanning' the puck -- having the defenseman pass the puck out of his end to a forward rushing up ice rather than carrying it out himself.

He once said he couldn't rate himself as a player because 'I've never seen myself play.' However, former Canadien teammate Jean Beliveau was more than happy to rate him. He called Harvey the 'best defenseman I've ever seen.'

Howie Meeker, a former Toronto Maple Leaf player, said Harvey was an 'early Bobby Orr.'

'Except he did it in semi-slow motion,' Meeker said. 'You always knew what was coming -- you could see it happening -- but you couldn't do anything about it.

'If he had had Orr's legs, he would have been in that class. He was anyway, but he couldn't accelerate like Orr. Doug was more like a Mack Truck.'

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