Archive for January, 2007

I got this for Christmas….

January 26, 2007

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Dave Keon in the news…. again!

January 26, 2007

Keon to return from Leafs exile

Joe O’Connor, CanWest News Service

Published: Thursday, January 25, 2007

TORONTO- It was a press release worthy of a raised eyebrow. A note from the Toronto Maple Leafs inner sanctum announcing the organization would be honouring the 1967 Stanley Cup champions with a pre-game ceremony at the Air Canada Centre on Feb. 17, and that he was going to be there.

Dave Keon, the old captain – the Hall of Fame player Harold Ballard treated like a peon – had agreed to come home after a 31-year self-imposed exile from Leafs Nation.

He came back once before, for an old-timers’ game at Maple Leaf Gardens in 1991, but since then: nothing. Until now.

”It’s been 40 years, and the Leafs are going to pay tribute to the team,” Keon said from his home in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. ”And the last time I looked at the team picture, I was part of that team.”

And not just any old part: Keon won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP for the job he did dousing an explosive crew of Montreal forwards featuring Jean Beliveau, Yvan Cournoyer and Henri Richard. The ’67 Cup was the fourth of his career, and the 11th in Maple Leafs franchise history.

Toronto is still waiting for number 12.

Keon is somewhat guarded about the trip back. He says his decision to accept Toronto general manager John Ferguson’s invitation to stand alongside his old comrades – George Armstrong, Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Ron Ellis and the rest – does not automatically change his opinion of a franchise that went from world class to worst case during Mad King Harold’s 18-year reign.

”I had to think about it,” Keon says of his decision to return. ”It is probably a step forward for (the Leafs), I would think, because they have never acknowledged that there were some successful teams.”

But what continues to irk Keon about the club is its refusal to retire players’ numbers. Sweater numbers are honoured by a banner at the ACC, but with the exception of Nos. 5 (Bill Barilko) and 6 (Ace Bailey) they remain in circulation. Keon is not the only old Leaf to disparage the arrangement.

”You go around the league, and the players that made this game, their sweaters are retired,” says Ellis, the Hockey Hall of Fame’s director of public affairs. ”Davey is a true traditionalist. The Leafs were his team. That was the team that he wanted to play with, and he was proud of being able to bring them to the top again and win those four Cups in the 1960s.

”He believed in the tradition of the Leafs.”

Ellis argues that the longer a legend’s sweater remains in the ranks, the greater the chance the number – such as Keon’s famous 14 -will lose meaning as it passes from one player to the next.

Keon’s former numerals currently reside on Matt Stajan’s back. Before Stajan, they belonged to Jonas Hoglund, Darby Hendrickson and Dave Reid.

”One of the things that gets us old-timers a little concerned is when you see a sweater, like Frank Mahovlich’s (No. 27),” says Ellis. ”And then another player (John Kordic, Dave Semenko and Bryan Marchment) who certainly deserves to be in the NHL, but doesn’t have the same credentials as Frank Mahovlich, is wearing it.

”I think that takes something away from the number.”

The sweater flap is sure to surface again when Keon appears at the ACC for the first time next month. For Keon, coming home to the Leafs represents a new beginning.

And for those in Leafs Nation who remember watching him play, a fresh start with Davey Keon is something they have been waiting for, for a very long time.

”I think it is tremendous,” Ellis says. ”It is tremendous to have the Conn Smythe Trophy winner there with the team, but more importantly, the fans are going to have an opportunity to welcome Davey back.

”I hope the ACC is prepared for a standing ovation for Davey Keon alone.”