TORONTO – One of the most impressive and relevant collections of hockey photography have found a permanent home at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, where fans now can admire the work of photographer Alain Brouillard.Click here for a photo gallery.
Rocket Richard in the dressing room for the final time. Bobby Hull smiling at the boards. NHLers at home, relaxing. Full colour photographs from the 1950s and 1960s. This is the quality of images created by Alain Brouillard during his years of shooting photography in Montreal during the Original Six.
And now, thanks to the perseverance of Craig Campbell, manager of the Resource Centre & Archives at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Brouillard’s oeuvre has found a secure and permanent home where his photographs will be admired by hockey fans for generations to come.
Brouillard’s photography was best known by his company name "Studio Alain," and the collection was donated to the Hockey Hall of Fame by Marc Juteau, president of Classic Auctions. It was a gesture that represents the strong relationship Campbell has with the auction house, even though the two are often interested in the same memorabilia for different reasons. Despite Juteau’s commercial interests, though, he has been a strong supporter of the Hockey Hall of Fame as well.
“Mr. Brouillard was one of the premier hockey photographers in Montreal covering perhaps their finest years in the mid to late 1950's and into the early 1960s,” Campbell explained. “The collection features over 1,100 black-and-white large formal negatives and about 50 colour transparencies.”
Brouillard regularly contributed to the top hockey magazines of the day including Sport Revue and Sport Image. His photography features many iconic images that will be recognized by photo enthusiasts, publication collectors, and ardent hockey fans—photos that will no doubt find renewed admiration now that the collection is in the hands of the Hall and can be exhibited and published with due respect as a whole.
The collection focuses on Montreal Canadiens players, of course, but also includes many of the top stars of the other five teams in the NHL during its greatest days. “Brouillard was one of the few photographers to have full access to the Montreal Canadiens players,” Campbell noted. As a result, the photographer was able to capture unique images of the players off ice, at home with family and far from the madding crowd.
Brouillard's timing was impeccable. He came on the scene in Montreal at a time when the team was at the height of its powers, winning the Stanley Cup an unprecedented five times in a row (1955 to 1960).
Those teams included a dozen future Hall of Famers, from goalie Jacques Plante to defenceman Doug Harvey, and legendary forwards such as Rocket Richard, Jean Beliveau, and Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion. Brouillard not only captured great moments on ice; he also was in the dressing room for Cup celebrations and around the Montreal Forum with the players in unusually celebratory joy far removed from the serious efforts of beating the opposition on ice.
“The highlight of this body of work from Alain Studios is the occasion showing Rocket Richard in the Montreal Canadiens dressing room hanging up his sweater for the last time,” Campbell offered. As Brouillard explained of the historic shot, "I simply locked the dressing room door so that I was the only photographer to get the shot!"
- with files from Craig Campbell, HHoF
Footnote: The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto is a partner of the International Ice Hockey Federation. The World of Hockey zone displays international ice hockey history and also IIHF Hall of Fame honour roll.