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Dave Keon: 1967 Maple Leafs 'good for one month'

Maple Leafs legend shares thoughts on last Toronto Stanley Cup, rivalry with Canadiens, toughest player he faced

by Dave Stubbs @Dave_Stubbs / Columnist

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs legend Dave Keon unplugged on a variety of subjects over breakfast in Toronto Friday, the morning after his statue was unveiled in Legends Row and the day before his No. 14 was retired by his team:

If we visited your home in Florida, would we know you were a Hall of Fame hockey player?

"Not right away. You have your time when you play and then you move on with your life. There are a couple things I have that my sisters gave me when I retired - my Maple Leafs sweater and my Hartford Whalers sweater. We had them framed. I have a picture when I played in Hartford. A friend of mine was an architect; he asked me if I had a pair of skates, he did something with those. And I have a painting of myself with Leafs and Whalers (logos) over top of it, that was given to me by friends at the golf club I belong to."


Did being captain of the Maple Leafs from 1969 to 1975 change you in any way?

"I don't think so. Really, I just tried to play and do the things I'd always done. Being captain was nice, but I don't know that there was any more responsibility. I tried to play the same way all the time. I had a pretty good relationship with most of the officials. I swore at them occasionally and they swore back at me."


Do you watch much hockey today?

"A little, but not a whole lot. We have the NHL Network and NBC Sports in Florida. The (Florida) Panthers and the (Tampa Bay) Lightning are on FOX, so I get to see the Panthers a little bit.


Montreal Canadiens fans are grumbling that it's been a little over 23 years since their team won the Stanley Cup…

"What about Leafs fans? It's going to be 50 for them!"


Who was the toughest competitor you ever faced, and did you get close to any of your opponents off the ice?

"Henri (Richard, of the Montreal Canadiens) was a great competitor, as was Normie Ullman (of the Detroit Red Wings). These were the guys I played against. I didn't play that often against Gordie (Howe), but you had to be aware of where he was on the ice. Did I have relationships with opponents? No, not when there were six teams in the NHL. When there was expansion, there was a little more interaction with players but with six teams, no."


It's hard to believe that the Maple Leafs and Canadiens haven't met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 1979. Those two teams were huge rivals during your day. Will we ever see a return of that rivalry?

Both teams have to be good and competitive for that to happen. And one team can't win all the time. Everybody talks about the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. My wife is from Boston and I tell her that Boston never won against the Yankees, so it wasn't a competition. The Yankees won all the time. That's not a rivalry. It's a rivalry when one team wins and the other team wins. When one team wins all the time, you just have great animosity. "


How was it that the 1967 Maple Leafs, a team that wasn't exactly stocked with youngsters, could upset the Canadiens to win the Stanley Cup?

"We were really good for one month. And we had a little bit of luck. Everybody on a team has to perform, do their part that's set for them. Some people are asked to do a little bit more and they have to do that, too. But everybody has to sacrifice and discipline themselves. Sometimes you don't win, even if you sacrifice and are disciplined, but it's important that you do. We had good goaltending with John (Bower) and Terry (Sawchuk), and people played really well. You have to understand the difference between winning and losing is tiny. Maybe it's making the right line change, not going back, coming off so a fresh guy can come on. It could be something stupid, but if you don't get back, a guy scores."


The late Dickie Moore said that he didn't make as much money as today's player, but that today's player isn't having as much fun as he had…

"That is a fact. Kids now aren't allowed to have fun. With social media, you really can't do anything."


The Canadiens of the 1970s did enjoy a bit of nightlife and some will tell you to this day that they practiced guilty…

"Didn't we all?"

Video: BOS@TOR: Maple Leafs retire Dave Keon's number

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