Moments before dropping the puck in the team's Centennial Anniversary home opener, the Toronto Maple Leafs officially retired the numbers of 16 players that were once honoured with banners hanging in Air Canada Centre, alongside the two previously retired numbers of Ace Bailey and Bill Barilko. The team also added Dave Keon to the distinguished group by raising a new banner to retire his number 14.
"Tonight is a very special moment in Maple Leafs history," said Brendan Shanahan, President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs. "It is a historic moment for these 19 Leafs legends, but also for our fans who are able to join us in recognizing them in one of the most meaningful ways you can in our game. This Centennial Anniversary is the perfect time to celebrate our franchise's greatest players in this way and the perfect time to have Dave Keon's number 14 join them where it rightfully belongs."
All Maple Leaf players with an honoured banner, or a family member, were informed by Brendan Shanahan of the plans to retire the numbers at a pre-game reception just prior to stepping on the ice for the ceremony.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAF HOCKEY CLUB RETIRED NUMBERS
|Number ||Player (years played with Maple Leafs) ||Date Retired |
|1 ||Turk Broda (1937-52), Johnny Bower (1959-70) ||October 15, 2016 |
|4 ||Hap Day (1924-37), Red Kelly (1961-67) ||October 15, 2016 |
|5 ||Bill Barilko (1946-51) ||1951 |
|6 ||Ace Bailey (1926-33) ||February 14, 1934 |
|7 ||King Clancy (1931-37), Tim Horton (1950-70) ||October 15, 2016 |
|9 ||Ted Kennedy (1943-55; 1956-57), Charlie Conacher (1930-38) ||October 15, 2016 |
|10 ||Syl Apps (1937-43; 1945-48), George Armstrong (1950-69, 1970-71) ||October 15, 2016 |
|13 ||Mats Sundin (1994-2008) ||October 15, 2016 |
|14 ||Dave Keon (1960-75) ||October 15, 2016 |
|17 ||Wendel Clark (1985-94; 1996-98; 1999-2000) ||October 15, 2016 |
|21 ||Borje Salming (1973-89) ||October 15, 2016 |
|27 ||Frank Mahovlich (1957-68), Darryl Sittler (1970-82) ||October 15, 2016 |
|93 ||Doug Gilmour (1991-97; 2002-03) ||October 15, 2016 |
Current Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, who had previously worn the number 21 with the team, changed his number to 25 prior to tonight's pre-game ceremony to retire the numbers.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were the first team in the NHL, NBA or Major League Baseball to retire a number when Conn Smythe announced on February 14, 1934 at a benefit game for Ace Bailey, which became the first All Star Game in NHL history, that no player would ever wear Bailey's number six again after he suffered a career-ending injury. Bill Barilko's number would become the second number to be retired by the Maple Leafs after he was listed as missing for 11 years following a plane crash. His number five was pulled from circulation in 1951 before being permanently retired in 1962.
More than 30 seasons later, the Maple Leafs began the tradition of honouring numbers. The numbers of Leafs legends would be raised to the rafters but the number would often remain in circulation, continuing the tradition of passing numbers from one Leafs player to another. Those honoured were Syl Apps, Ted Kennedy, Turk Broda, Johnny Bower, King Clancy, Tim Horton, Charlie Conacher, George Armstrong, Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler, Hap Day, Red Kelly, Borje Salming, Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Mats Sundin.