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Alan Eagleson in the world of politics

He never played the game, but he was the most powerful man in hockey. Alan Eagleson played many roles off the ice: agent to the stars, union boss and international hockey impresario. But he was also accused of less savoury activities: cozying up to management, bullying players and misusing their money. Then came the investigations, criminal convictions and a dizzying fall from grace.

Alan Eagleson is one of Canada's movers and shakers. At age 35, he has already worn many hats: lawyer, hockey agent, member of the Ontario legislature. Now "the Eagle" is running for Ontario Progressive Conservative Party president. Depending on whom you ask, the brash young man is either an "establishment" man or a "rebel." As we see in this clip, even entertainers like Tommy Ambrose are singing his praises.
Note: Some audio missing. 
• Robert Alan Eagleson, the son of working class Irish immigrants, was born on April 24, 1933, immediately after his parents listened to an overtime Stanley Cup playoff hockey game between Toronto and Boston. His mother said the Toronto win excited her so much that she went into labour.

• According to Deidra Clayton's Eagle: The Life and Times of R. Alan Eagleson, young Alan began "practicing" law at age five. He turned a black cape into a judge's robes, built a courtroom out of cardboard, and passed judgment on cut-outs from the Simpson-Sears catalogue. The guilty were consigned to an old birdcage.

• Clayton writes that at university Eagleson played hockey as well as basketball, lacrosse and swimming, but wasn't a stellar athlete. He suffered a serious back injury during an intramural lacrosse game; the injury forced him to wear a back brace and has troubled him ever since. He then became the manager of the University of Toronto basketball team.

• After graduating from the University of Toronto law school, Alan Eagleson joined a law practice with his former school friends.

• Alan Eagleson began dabbling in politics in 1963, running for a federal seat with the Progressive Conservatives at age 29. Eagleson, backed by Toronto Maple Leafs owner Harold Ballard, lost the York West riding to another hockey icon, former NHL great Leonard "Red" Kelly, a Liberal.

• In September 1963 Eagleson ran for the provincial Conservatives. He won the Lakeshore riding and spent four years as a Tory backbencher. In 1968 Eagleson was defeated by New Democrat Pat Lawlor.

• Three weeks after losing his seat, Eagleson was elected president of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives. He served primarily as a fundraiser from that point on, and was re-elected in 1973.

• Eagleson made many important connections during his years in politics. He became a close friend of future prime minister Brian Mulroney, actively supporting Mulroney's failed 1976 bid to win the leadership of the federal Conservatives.

• Tommy Ambrose, who sings Eagleson's praises in this clip, was a Toronto composer and singer who first became famous singing religious songs as a child. In 1957 he appeared on CBC Television's Cross-Canada Hit Parade and then While We're Young (1960-61). From 1961 to 1963 he hosted The Tommy Ambrose Show

Medium: Television
Program: CBC Television News Special
Broadcast Date: Nov. 5, 1968
Guest(s): Tommy Ambrose, Alan Eagleson
Reporter: Bill Harrington
Duration: 2:17
Tommy Ambrose song to the tune of "Ontari-ari-ario" by D. Claman.

Last updated: September 28, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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