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100,000 historic images
CanWest News Service
Published: Thursday, October 26, 2006

MONTREAL - Denis Brodeur's massive, historic hockey photography collection seems likely to remain intact, as the Montreal Canadiens and the National Hockey League appear prepared to spend in the neighbourhood of US$350,000 for it.

A library of approximately 100,000 images -- four decades' worth of the Canadiens, the 1972 Canada-Soviet Summit Series, three Canada Cups, other major international games and special events -- was withdrawn from a month-long online auction Tuesday night, just hours before its close.

According to a source, the Canadiens and NHL had been in talks with the St. Constant-based hockey auction house Classic Collectibles, to whom Brodeur -- father of New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur -- has consigned the photos. No sale has yet been finalized, though negotiations continue.

When the collection was withdrawn, the highest of 19 bids was US$345,000 -- which is US$105,000 less than minimum wage in today's NHL. Classic normally charges a 15% commission, which would add US$51,750 to the final sale price.

Shortly before Tuesday's scheduled 9 p.m. auction close, an American collector, aware of Brodeur's wishes, apparently agreed to step down after bidding reached its current figure.

A Canadiens spokesperson confirmed yesterday that the club had interest in the collection, but would not elaborate.

The collection would link the work of the late David Bier, who shot the team before Brodeur, and current Canadiens photographer Bob Fisher, providing the organization with an unbroken photographic resource as its 2009 centennial approaches.

Brodeur was delighted yesterday, and not simply because the price he had sought for his life's work had been reached.

"It would be wonderful if the Canadiens and NHL buy it," he said. "What better owners could you have? Ninety-nine per cent of the photos I took were at the [Montreal] Forum. All my photos, together, would be in good hands."

Many of Brodeur's photos feature some of the greatest Montreal clubs ever assembled, including the fabulous teams of the 1970s.

Other highlights: a candid shot of a chance Forum meeting in 1975 between NHL president Clarence Campbell and Maurice Richard, 20 years after Campbell's suspension of the Rocket touched off the infamous Richard Riot; images from the 1975 New Year's Eve 3-3 tie between the Canadiens and Russia's Red Army; and the Forum's emotional closing in 1996.

Brodeur will retain the rights to 100 images for a future exhibition, as well as all photos he has shot of his son and a series capturing Paul Henderson's winning goal in Game 8 of the 1972 Summit Series.

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