It’s been a long time coming, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally mended a fence destroyed long ago. The club announced on Thursday the next three honourees that will be enshrined on Legends Row – a list that included legendary goaltender Turk Broda, the late Tim Horton and arguably one of the greatest players to ever suit up in blue and white, Dave Keon.
The #leafs have mended fences with Dave Keon. He'll get a statue in "Legends Row" in October along with Tim Horton and Turk Broda.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 21, 2016
Keon played 15 seasons with the Leafs leading them to four Stanley Cups throughout the 1960s. It’s been said that he was the heart and soul of the organization during his days in Toronto and remains among the top five in Leafs history in games played (fourth with 1,062), goals (third with 365), assists (fourth with 493), points (third with 858) and game winning goals (fourth with 38). His 23 shorthanded goals are tied with former captain Mats Sundin for first on the organizations all-time list.
Club president Brendan Shanahan has made it his goal to mend old wounds with a large push to bring Keon back to the team he put his body on the line for. It’ll be the first time the now 75-year-old Keon will join the Leafs in celebration since they honoured the 1967 championship team in 2007. Prior to that outing, Keon didn’t attend any club-organized events thanks, in large part, to the way the organization treated him during the latter part of his playing days in Toronto.
As the Toronto Sun’s Lance Hornby writes, Keon “represented the clean-cut, disciplined approach that helped the Leafs win four championships in the six-team era, with an astonishingly low 75 career penalty minutes.”
Keon never approved of the way that Ballard wouldn’t give star players raises, his lack of interest in retiring the numbers of important franchise players and the way he controlled and blocked trades out of spite for particular players.
On October 31, 1969, Keon was named the captain of the Leafs and led the team until he left for the WHA in 1975. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy in 1961 as the league’s top rookie and the Lady Byng in 1962 and 1963 – adding a Conn Smythe in 1967. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
— Lauren Howe (@LaurenHowe) January 21, 2016
Horton played 1,185 career regular season games for the Leafs – second to only George Armstrong. He ranks fourth among Leafs defenceman with 109 goals and third in career assists among Leaf blueliners (349). Horton played parts of 20 seasons with the Maple Leafs between 1949 and 1970.
He was easily one of the most dominant defenceman of his time – known for his strength on the puck and his ability to shut down the opponents offensive threats.
“He was as much a part of the ‘60s dynasty as Keon, partnered with Allan Stanley on the Leaf line,” writes Hornby. “Superstitious coach Punch Imlach often touched Horton’s ‘lucky’ No. 7 stick before a game. Horton began his doughnut empire while with the Leafs, opening a couple of stores, but never lived to see it become the multi-million dollar world-wide operation of today.”
Horton was killed when his car rolled over in February of 1974 when he was just 44 years old. In 1977 he was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Broda ranks first in games played by a Leafs goaltender (629) as well as wins (302) and shutouts (62). He won five Stanley Cups with the Leafs and two Vezina Trophies (1941 and 1948).
While he’s not the most recognized goalie by today’s Leafs fans – give that to Johnny Bower – he’s without doubt the Leafs greatest goalie of all-time. He led the Leafs to a seven-game series win after they fell three games down to the Detroit Red Wings in 1941-42 to win the Stanley Cup. It was the first time a professional team came back from a 3-0 series deficit to win in a seven-game series. Broda was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1967 – the last time the Leafs won the Stanley Cup.
Keon, along with the families of the other honourees will join the Leafs in a pre-game ceremony this Saturday when the rival Canadiens invade the Air Canada Centre. The addition of their bronze statues on Legends Row will come as the team heads into its centennial year.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.