Keon, Horton, Broda join Maple Leafs' Legends Row

Saturday, 01.23.2016 / 9:07 PM
Mike Brophy  - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Dave Keon is officially a Toronto Maple Leafs legend.

Keon, 75, was among the latest group of former Maple Leafs stars to join Legends Row, a collection of statues located outside Air Canada Centre in Maple Leafs Square. Also honored prior to Toronto's game against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday were goaltender Turk Broda and defenseman Tim Horton.

"I'm very pleased to be here tonight; to be part of the next group of Legends Row with Turk and Tim," Keon said. "It's a great honor and I'm very happy."

Keon was a fan favorite during his time with the Maple Leafs, and many consider him to be one of the greatest players in franchise history. Keon was part of the Maple Leafs' Stanley Cup-winning teams in 1962-64 and 1967, and he served as captain from 1969-70 through 1974-75.

However, Keon has been at odds with the organization since his departure in 1975, although he has appeared several times at games during ceremonies held at Air Canada Centre.

The Maple Leafs historically retire only the numbers of distinguished players who have died or had their career shortened due to tragic or catastrophic circumstances while playing for the team; they have retired No. 5 (Bill Barilko) and No. 6 (Ace Bailey). Instead, they prefer instead to honor the players who wore certain numbers by raising those numbers to the rafters. Of the numbers that have been honored, only one (No. 21, worn by forward James van Riemsdyk) is still in circulation. Defenseman Borje Salming, who wore No. 21, is among those who have been honored; he is also on Legends Row along with Ted Kennedy, Johnny Bower, Darryl Sittler, Syl Apps, George Armstrong and Mats Sundin.

Keon has said at various times he doesn't believe in honoring a player's number and would rather the organization retire the numbers of players it deems worthy. He has not yet agreed to allow the team to honor his No. 14, but said he was pleased to be added to Legends Row.

"I was notified that I had been selected and I had a talk with Brendan [Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan] a couple of times and told him I was honored to be selected and if there was anything I could do to help the ceremonies along that I would be happy to participate, and I'm here tonight," Keon said.

Keon played 1,062 games with the Maple Leafs, scoring 365 goals and 858 points. In addition to helping Toronto win four Stanley Cups, Keon won the Calder Trophy as the NHL's top rookie in 1960-61, the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 1967, and was a two-time winner of the Lady Byng Trophy, given for skillful and gentlemanly play (1961-62 and 1962-63).

Horton, a defenseman and longtime teammate of Keon, played 1,185 games with the Maple Leafs, scoring 109 goals and 458 points with 1,389 penalty minutes while helping Toronto win the Cup four times. Broda had a 302-224-101 record and 62 shutouts in 629 games with the Maple Leafs, helping Toronto win the Stanley Cup five times.

Horton and Broda were represented by their daughters, Jeri Horton-Joyce and Barb Tushingham, at the pregame ceremony.

Keon was at the Maple Leafs' morning skate and visited with the current team. His appearance was appreciated by coach Mike Babcock.

"To have the opportunity this morning, as we did, to have Mr. Keon in our room to talk to our players and coaches and to be around someone who did it right and was very competitive and a real pro is fantastic," Babcock said. "I think it is important to be around people like that. One little story he shared with me is, someone told him when he first started in the NHL, 'Are you working hard or do you think you're working hard? There is a big difference between the two.' I thought it was a great message."

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