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Neil Stevens, Canadian Press
Published: Monday, October 16, 2006

TORONTO (CP) - Carl Brewer was an oddball whose struggles to earn a living after an all-star hockey career usually flopped, but he had Susan Foster and an obsession, and many of his peers owe the two of them an everlasting debt of gratitude.

"The Power of Two" is the story, in Foster's words and with contributions saved from writings by Brewer on scraps of paper, of the life they came to share, and of their joint battle with hockey's power brokers.

Brewer would love the book but, of course, he's not around to read it. He was receiving treatment for sleep apnea when Foster awoke on the morning of Aug. 25, 2001, to find that he had passed away. He was 62.

Brewer was obsessed with getting what he felt he deserved from the Toronto Maple Leafs and the pension plan for NHL players, and with exposing Alan Eagleson, and Foster was an integral part of the attack on all fronts. Brewer had the dogged determination and Foster had the brains.

They succeeded, somehow, both in the courts and in sharing a love that evolved out of their broken marriages.

Brewer was on integral part of the Leafs teams that won the Stanley Cup in 1962, 1963 and 1964. He was named to the NHL's first all-star team in 1963.

He was always different. He brought Eagleson into his contract talks with the Leafs, much to the dismay of coach Punch Imlach, he cut the palms out of his gloves so he could hold his stick shaft with his bare hands, and he walked away from the NHL in 1965 after playing for only seven years.

He sought and was eventually granted reinstatement as an amateur so he could play for Canada at the 1967 world championship, he went to Finland to play temporarily, and returned to the NHL to play a full season with the Detroit Red Wings in 1969-70. After two ensuing years of sporadic playing time with the St. Louis Blues hampered by a knee injury, Brewer quit hockey again.

Brewer reappeared with the Toronto Toros of the upstart WHA in 1973-74. He quit again, only to strangely reappear in 1979-80 with the Leafs after Imlach was brought back. His teammates regarded him as an Imlach spy, but he really wasn't. Brewer got credit for dressing for 20 games in what was his swansong.

It was during his legal attempts to get money he felt he was owed by the Leafs that he encountered opposition from Eagleson, his former buddy who was by now solidly entrenched as executive director of the NHL Players' Association. They were close enough at the start that the Eaglesons had Brewer be their daughter's Godfather. By the end, they were bitter enemies, and Brewer was no longer the Godfather.

On April 26, 1991, Brewer and a handful of other former players filed a lawsuit against the NHL to recover missing pension monies. They learned the following year that they had won, and the legal victory spurred Brewer and Foster on in their investigation of the fraud, corruption and embezzlement on which Eagleson built his empire. The courts shot down The Eagle in the spring of 1994.

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