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Former Maple Leafs All-Star Brewer dies at 62

Thursday, September 6, 2001
Ex-teammates recall, honor Brewer
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Carl Brewer used to antagonize opponents into drawing penalties or making dumb plays during a 22-year NHL career that saw him win three Stanley Cup championships.

He was even better at antagonizing management, retiring three times during his career and leading a court battle that ended with the NHL paying an additional $40 million in pension money to retired players.

Brewer, 62, died in his sleep Saturday of undisclosed causes. On Wednesday, former teammates and opponents who benefited from his legal challenge attended his funeral and lauded his fight against the league.

"He was like a terrier. Once he had his teeth into it, he wouldn't give up," Hall of Famer Red Kelly said of Brewer's battle for the pension money. "He just kept going. A lot of players didn't think he knew what he was doing but he stuck with it and he was proven right."

Brewer started his battle with the NHL Pension Society by questioning the practices of then NHL Players' Association head Alan Eagleson. Brewer organized former players, including Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Eddie Shack, to file a lawsuit in 1991.

The suit was filed in Canada against each NHL club, then NHL president John Ziegler and the NHL Pension Society claimed team owners had misallocated surplus pension money.

A judge ruled in favor of the players in October 1992, saying NHL clubs had to reimburse surplus pension money the league had improperly used since 1982. The NHL appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which turned it down in 1994.

The NHL eventually reached a settlement with the players to pay $40 million from surplus pension funds.

The court case contributed to legal woes that brought down Eagleson, once one of the most powerful men in international hockey. He served six months in prison for fraud and theft after pleading guilty to criminal charges.

"With the pension, he was just great," Shack said. "I was in Minnesota just yesterday and a lot of the guys -- Tony Esposito, Lou Nanne -- they were saying how great it was they got that money and they thank Carl for all that."

A swift-skating defenseman with an abrasive style, Brewer played 604 games in his career, scoring 25 goals and 198 assists. He was a key member of Toronto teams that won three straight Stanley Cups (1962-64).

"He was a brilliant hockey player. He should be in the Hall of Fame," former teammate Frank Mahovlich said.

Brewer played for Toronto, Detroit and St. Louis in the NHL, along with the Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association and one season in Finland.

He was survived by a daughter, Annalissa, and longtime companion Susan Foster.

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