This is only a guess—not the documented-to-death reporting Russ Conway does—but the odds are excellent that Conway was the only Pulitzer Prize runner-up who covered a high school football game last Thanksgiving.
Conway is a small-town guy working on a small-town newspaper, the Eagle-Tribune in Lawrence, Mass., but he has made a big-time impact on pro hockey. Besides covering Boston Bruins home games, checking out the local preps and doing the things any sports editor of a 55,000-circulation newspaper must, Conway has pulled off some of the most compelling investigative reporting in sports journalism. His work—one of three finalists for the 1992 Pulitzer for beat reporting—is on the brink of bringing down Alan Eagleson, founder and former president of the NHL Players Association and one of the most powerful men in hockey.
Eagleson was much more than just a union boss in the 1970s and 1980s. He was the patron of the 1972 Super Series with the Soviet Union, a player agent, the organizer of Canada Cup tournaments and a friend to prime ministers. He fed colorful quotes to the media, which benignly called him "a man of many hats."
Eagleson turned out to be choice game for Conway, a man who can read financial statements like a CPA and work a telephone better than a teenager. Bit by juicy bit, revelation by startling revelation, Conway exposed Eagleson's duplicitous dealings beneath those many hats.
Here are just a few of the allegations Conway has brought to light in the Eagle-Tribune and his recent book, Game Misconduct: Alan Eagleson and the Corruption of Hockey:
? Scamming NHL players. Example: Eagleson tried to gain favor with an insurance company by arranging for former player Andr� Savard to receive $70,000 instead of the $175,000 in disability payment that was rightly his. Eagleson then had one of his companies charge Savard an $8,500 legal fee for collecting the disability payment.
?Union mismanagement. Examples: During Eagleson's tenure, the NHLPA bestowed loans, mortgages and gifts upon his associates and friends.
?Fraud. Example: Eagleson's law firm rented out 10 parking spaces at his Toronto office building, where only four legal spaces existed.
?Greed. Example: Eagleson planned to pocket money from rink-board advertising at the 1991 Canada Cup but failed when his scheme became public.
Conway's reporting has made him a hero among the many former NHL players who feel they were cheated by Eagleson.