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Dave Keon, Tim Horton, Turk Broda to join Legends Row

by Adam Proteau / Toronto Maple Leafs



As 2016 began, the Maple Leafs’ “Legends Row” – an array of life-sized statues outside Air Canada Centre paying tribute to the franchise’s numerous icons – had seven honourees. But Thursday, the organization announced that number would grow to double-digits with the celebration of three new Legends Row members: Dave Keon, Tim Horton and Turk Broda.

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Keon was born in Noranda, Que. on March 22, 1940, and spent his formative years in Toronto as a centreman playing and studying at storied St. Michael’s College. Although he wasn’t a big man physically at 5-foot-9, Keon made a massive impact wherever he went: in his rookie NHL season with the Leafs in 1960-61, he posted 20 goals and 45 points in 70 games and was awarded the Calder Trophy as the League’s top rookie. And over the course of the next 14 years, Keon scored at least 20 goals in 10 seasons, and at least 50 points in 12 seasons.

More important, of course, is the fact Keon was a member of four Stanley Cup-champion Leafs teams, including Toronto’s most recent championship squad in 1967. And he was a key contributor, if not the driving force, in all of them. Keon was incredibly consistent in the 48 playoff games in which he participated during those four Cup-winning runs, scoring 22 goals and 37 points, and winning the 1967 Conn Smythe Trophy as that post-season’s most valuable player.

By the time Keon’s career with the Leafs came to an end in 1975, he’d amassed 365 goals in a Toronto uniform to become the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. Though he eventually was knocked from atop that perch by superstars (and Legends Row honourees) Darryl Sittler and Mats Sundin, Keon still sits third on the all-time list of Leafs goal-scorers, and his other all-time stats within the organization are equally impressive: he’s first in shorthanded goals (25), third in points (858) and in game-winning goals (49), and fourth in games played (1,062) and assists (493)

But it wasn’t only his contributions on offence that made Keon so vital to the Leafs’ spectacular successes; indeed, he was equally ferocious on defence and regularly was assigned the task of keeping opponents’ most dangerous players in check. He excelled at it – in the 1970-71 campaign, he set an NHL record with eight shorthanded goals – and did so while maintaining a remarkable restraint that earned him two Lady Byng Memorial Trophies as the league’s most sportsmanlike and gentlemanly player in 1962 and 1963.

After he left Toronto, Keon jumped to the World Hockey Association, where he spent the next five seasons playing for the Minnesota, Indianapolis, and New England franchises. At age 39, he returned to the NHL and skated for the Hartford Whalers for the final three years of his playing career, but he will forever be regarded as a Maple Leaf, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.

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Like Keon, Horton played and starred at St. Michael’s College as a teenager. But where Keon made the jump to the NHL right away, Horton needed time to hone his craft in the minors with the Leafs’ farm team in Pittsburgh before becoming a full-timer with Toronto in 1952-53. And where other players were dynamos with the puck, Horton was a stay-at-home defender and arguably the strongest player on the ice every time he set foot on it and the mere idea of him inflicting his physicality on an opponent was enough to intimidate opponents. Although he remains fourth all-time in penalty-minute leaders for the Leafs (1,389), Horton only had more than 100 PIMs once during his 17 full seasons with Toronto.

Born in 1930 in Cochrane, Ont., Horton was immensely respected around the league for his rugged play – to say nothing of a versatility that allowed Leafs coach Punch Imlach to slot him in the lineup at right wing in 1964-65 – but one of his biggest calling cards in Toronto was his durability. For nearly seven calendar years (from Feb. 11, 1961 to Feb. 4, 1968), Horton appeared in 486 consecutive regular-season games for the Buds, setting a team record that still stands and a league record for defensemen that stood for the next 39 years. In that seven-year span, he won four Stanley Cups with the team and was named a First Team All-Star once and a Second Team All-Star twice.

Horton was traded to the New York Rangers late in the 1969-70 campaign and played one full season for the Blueshirts. Even as a player in his early forties, he was valuable to teams, as evidenced by the fact he was selected in two consecutive NHL expansion drafts that took him first to Pittsburgh in 1971, then to Buffalo the following year. By that point, he had also established himself in the business community, opening a car dealership in Toronto and a donut store bearing his name in Hamilton, Ont., which eventually became the international fast food powerhouse it is today.

Tragically, Horton lost his life in the late hours of Feb. 21, 1974, when he was involved in a single-car automobile accident driving back to Buffalo after the Sabres played the Leafs earlier that day. However, his legacy as one of the sport’s greatest-ever blueliners was underscored when he was inducted posthumously into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977, and he’ll always have a special place in the hearts of Leafs fans.

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Born in Brandon, Man. on May 15, 1914, Broda began his professional playing career as a goaltender with the Detroit Red Wings organization. But, playing behind veterans John Ross Roach and Normie Smith, he was stuck in the American League when Leafs owner Conn Smythe laid eyes on him and acquired him in 1936 for the sum of $7,500.

That was a lot of money 80 years ago, but it was a small price to pay to land the man who’d be the Leafs’ star netminder for the next 14 seasons. Five years after he joined the Buds, Broda led the NHL in wins, with 28 in 48 games in 1940-41. The season after that, he helped his club to an NHL championship via one of the greatest comebacks in post-season history: the Leafs had trailed Broda’s former organization in Detroit by a 3-0 series deficit, but Toronto won the next four games to claim the first of five Stanley Cups in Broda’s time with the team.

From 1936 through 1951, Broda was one of the greatest workhorses in net the sport had ever seen, and was in net for the Leafs’ dynasty that earned four Cup wins in five years (1947-49, and 1951). He played at least 47 games a season from 1937-43 and three straight seasons of 60 games from 1946-49. The only thing that stopped him from continuing to be so dependable between those two stretches was his patriotism: Broda enlisted in the Canadian Armed Forces during World War II and served his country for two-and-a-half years before returning to the NHL in 1945.

Broda retired from hockey in 1951 having played at the NHL level only for the Leafs, and it’s small wonder he still holds a slew of team records for goalies. He remains Toronto’s all-time leader in wins (302), games played (629) and shutouts (62), and won Vezina Trophies as the League’s best netminder in 1941 and 1948. He passed away in 1972 at age 58, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1967.

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Keon, Horton and Broda join Sundin, Sittler, Ted “Teeder” Kennedy, George Armstrong, Syl Apps, Johnny Bower and Borje Salming on Legends Row, and deservedly so. In the Leafs’ 99-year history, few, if any stars have ever shone brighter.

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