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Alan Eagleson answers his critics

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.

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After two years of fending off allegations of wrongdoing and complaints from all sides, Alan Eagleson is going on the offensive. He has written a book (Powerplay: The Memoirs of Hockey Czar) and is doing the interview circuit. In this one-on-one with CBC Television's Dennis Trudeau, Eagleson isn't afraid to address the criticisms levelled against him. He defends his record, his financial dealings, and why his own pension is higher than that of any hockey player.
• The suggestions of conflict of interest presented by Dennis Trudeau in this clip were nothing new to Eagleson. As an agent, he earned millions representing star players. Yet in his role as union head (a job that paid significantly less) he was supposed to speak for journeyman players.
• His personal clients were not only players, but coaches and general managers. Eagleson always dismissed these apparent conflicts by saying they were not illegal, and had been publicly declared.

• Alan Eagleson's negotiating style, frequently described as "bullying," was exemplified by the way he secured a new contract for himself in 1986. A few minutes before collective bargaining talks between players and owners were to begin, his lawyer announced Eagleson would resign in five minutes unless he was given a new contract. The players, who were afraid that Eagleson would go to work for management, acquiesced.

• Eagleson's new contract was said to be the best in history for a North American union executive: six years, the car of his choice, a pension of $50,000 US for life (significantly better than any player ever received -- and the players got theirs in Canadian funds). And Eagleson's work for the association was to require only 60 to 65 per cent of his time.

• The 1991 book Net Worth: Exploding the Myths of Pro Hockey by journalists David Cruise and Alison Griffiths looked at early attempts to form a players' union. It also criticized Eagleson's tenure, citing hockey's "wretched" pensions and comparably low salaries compared to other sports. Cruise said Eagleson obtained "a confidential copy of our uncorrected galleys" and threatened to sue over the implication that he didn't always act in the players' best interest. In 1995 Net Worth was turned into a CBC Television drama.
Medium: Television
Program: Newswatch
Broadcast Date: Oct. 15, 1991
Guest(s): Alan Eagleson
Host: Dennis Trudeau
Duration: 5:03

Last updated: April 23, 2012

Page consulted on October 9, 2014

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