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Leafs to Honour Three Opening Night

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
(September 5, 2006) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs will celebrate the achievements of three gentlemen in a special ceremony prior to the team's home opener against the Ottawa Senators on October 4. Leonard "Red' Kelly and the late Clarence "Hap' Day will have their #4 banners raised along with Borje Salming's #21 to honour their extraordinary contributions to the hockey club. The #4 and #21 "honoured' sweater numbers will remain in circulation. The banners of these three members of the Hockey Hall of Fame will join those of Syl Apps, Ted Kennedy, Walter "Turk' Broda, Johnny Bower, Francis "King' Clancy, Tim Horton, George Armstrong, Charlie Conacher, Frank Mahovlich and Darryl Sittler. The Leafs historically only retire numbers of distinguished players that have died or had their career shortened due to tragic or catastrophic circumstances while being a member of the team. Irvine "Ace' Bailey (#6) and Bill Barilko (# 5) are the two represented in this category and both have banners in their name at Air Canada Centre.

Day coached the Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cup titles.

Beginning in the 1993-94 campaign, the hockey club began a practice in which former Maple Leaf greats were honoured. A special banner, portraying the player's name and sweater number, is displayed permanently high above centre ice at Air Canada Centre. With this custom, the former player's honoured number stays in circulation and is deemed an "Honoured Number".     

Hap Day epitomized the pride of the Maple Leafs over a 30 year span. He has the distinction of being the only person to serve as Maple Leaf captain, coach and general manager. An original Maple Leaf when the team was founded in February 1927, Day served as team captain for the first Stanley Cup winning team (1932) which came five months after the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens. His 10-year rein as team captain is the second-longest tenure in team history behind only George Armstrong. Day's legacy in Maple Leafs history is etched in the Original Six franchise's first half-century Stanley Cup coaching record book. Only Scotty Bowman (9) and Toe Blake (8) have coached their NHL teams to more Stanley Cup titles. Day's name can be found five times on the Stanley Cup by coaching the blue and white to championships in 1942, 1945, 1947, 1948 and 1949 and he is the Maple Leafs all-time coaching leader in playoff wins with 49. The 1942 championship team is the only NHL Stanley Cup Final team to overcome a three-game deficit and remains only one of two teams to accomplish the feat in overall league playoff history. Interestingly enough, when Maple Leaf Gardens opened, Hap operated a pharmacy located just west of the main entrance. The dedicated Hap Day passed away February 17, 1990 and he will be represented by his son, Kerry, in the Opening Night Banner Raising Ceremony.

Red Kelly's talent and versatility as a player was never more evident by the way he successfully converted to the centre position with Toronto after tremendous service on the blue line of the Detroit Red Wings. Red is roundly recognized as one of the game's most honourable men. He was a four-time recipient of the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy, including one captured in 1960-61 as a Maple Leaf. The trophy is in recognition for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct and he also served in Canada's Parliament (1962 to 1965) during his playing days with Toronto. Red has the distinction of having accumulated the most playoff points of any Maple Leaf during the 1960's, a decade in which he added four Stanley Cup rings to the four he already earned with Detroit.

Upon his arrival to the Maple Leafs, trainer Tommy Naylor felt that Red should wear the number four since it was worn with great distinction earlier by Hap Day, Bob Davidson and Harry Watson. Maple Leaf loyalists fondly recall Red's "pyramid power' during the Maple Leafs playoff berths in each of his four seasons behind the bench from 1973 to 1977. His teams advanced to the second round on three of those occasions. He posted 133 regular season coaching wins which places him in a tie for fifth place with Pat Burns on the team's all-time wins list.

Borje Salming was a hockey pioneer in the truest sense of the word. His ascension to prominence in 1973 paved the way for European players to play in North America in subsequent seasons and he proved to be a durable two-way defenceman in a physical era when he first joined the National Hockey League. Blessed with outstanding hockey talent, the native of Kiruna, Sweden forged a stellar 16-year career with the Maple Leafs through shear determination and a strong will. Borje is fourth on the franchise's all-time points list (768) and he is the Maple Leafs all-time leader in assists with 620. Among all-time club defencemen, he is first in goals (148), assists and points. The two-time runner-up for the James Norris Trophy was named to the Second-Team NHL All-Star Team five times and the First-Team once. Borje was one of the main catalysts and a bona fide star on a formidable Maple Leaf team that was coached by Red Kelly from 1973 to 1977.

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