Next month at the inaugural Toronto Maple Leafs Fan Fest presented by your Toronto area Ford dealers, the team will officially unveil the first three members of ‘Legends Row’, a public statue in Maple Leaf Square that will honour a number of greats who have worn the iconic sweater during the franchise’s 97-year history. The team announced today that Ted Kennedy, along with two other Leaf legends to be named at Fan Fest, will be the first players to be honoured with bronze statues.
Legends Row will feature a 30-foot granite bench, located just outside Gate 5 at Air Canada Centre that will immortalize many of the biggest names in Toronto Maple Leafs history. It will be a multi-phase project that will unveil different players leading into the team’s Centennial season in 2017 and beyond.
“In addition to our focus on building a winning team for today and the future, there is an important responsibility to celebrate our team’s history and to create opportunities for a strong connection between our fans and that tradition,” said Brendan Shanahan, President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs. “Legends Row will be a fitting tribute that honours many of the greatest players to ever wear the Maple Leaf while giving our fans the chance to feel a part of that history. We are thrilled to include Ted Kennedy, a player who always gave everything he had to his team, and two other Leaf greats, as the first three players to be recognized.”
Leaf players to be included in the first phase of Legends Row were selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs historical committee. The historical committee is comprised of local industry and hockey experts to provide recommendations on alumni and historical decisions. Players are determined based on criteria that includes leadership, on-ice performance and contributions to the community.
Ted Kennedy’s son, Mark, and his family joined the team for the announcement.
“We were thrilled when informed of the idea of Legends Row and even more honoured when they said that Dad would be among the first players to be included,” said Kennedy. “I know that the idea of being immortalized in his number 9 Maple Leafs sweater, alongside some of the best players to ever play for this great franchise, would bring a tear to his eye.”
Ted Kennedy was viewed by his teammates and fans as the ultimate competitor and one of the great captains in team history. A five-time Stanley Cup winner and five-time All-Star, ‘Teeder’ spent his entire career with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1942 to 1957 where he served eight seasons as captain, including in 1955 when he won the Hart Trophy as League MVP. Kennedy was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966.
The statues for all players on Legends Row will be created by renowned sculptor and artist Erik Blome. His famous works include statues of Wayne Gretzky and Oscar De La Hoya at Staples Center in Los Angeles, a Chicago Blackhawks 75th Anniversary team tribute, a life-size statue of Rosa Parks at the Rosa Parks Museum and Library in Montgomery, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King and ‘Heralds of 9/11’, a noted Chicago-area monument using 22,000 lbs. of steel beams from the wreckage of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Erik attended the University of Michigan where he earned a B.F.A. in Fine Art with a heavy concentration in figurative sculpture. He received his M.F.A. in sculpture from Boston University. Subsequently, he received a Rotary Scholarship and did postgraduate work at the Royal College of Art in London, England, where he received a postgraduate diploma in sculpture and drawing.
Legends Row will be unveiled publicly on Saturday, September 6 with attendees of the Leafs Nation Fan Fest in attendance. Tickets for Fan Fest are available at www.mapleleafs.com/fanfest.
The next inductees into Legends Row will be announced in September, 2015.