MISSISSAUGA, Ont. - The Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, buoyed by a stirring ceremony honouring Dave Keon, rode a pair of goals from Cory Bureau to a 7-4 victory over the Kingston Frontenacs on Sunday afternoon in the Ontario Hockey League.
Prior to the start of the game, the Majors honoured Keon in a 30-minute ceremony that included retiring his No. 9 jersey - making him the first player franchise history to have his number retired.
"This is pretty special," said the 68-year-old Keon, who, after graduating from the Majors in 1960, went on to a 23-year professional career that included 15 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also played six seasons with three teams in the now-defunct World Hockey Association.
"There were a lot of great guys who played for St. Mike's," noted Keon as he listed such legends as Red Kelly, Ted Lindsay, Frank Mahovlich and Tim Horton. "Being the first guy to have his sweater retired is really a thrill and I can't thank the Majors enough for this day. This is pretty special."
Mississauga mayor Hazel McCallion, OHL commissioner David Branch and team owner Eugene Melnyk were among those who paid tribute to Keon, who now lives in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.
"You brought a profound and positive influence to our game," Branch said of Keon, who was given three standing ovations from the crowd of 2,708, many of whom weren't born when Keon started his career with the Majors.
"Being at St. Mike's was a very special time in my life," Keon told reporters after watching his jersey raised to the rafters at the Hershey Centre. "You were expected to act in a courteous way and be a credit to the school and yourself. It wasn't all about hockey. Education was a big part of it too. I think we all maintained those values as we got older."
Keon scored 73 goals and added 97 assists in three seasons with St. Mike's. He was regarded as the most gentlemanly player of his time in the NHL and twice won the Lady Byng Trophy as the least penalized player and captured the Calder Trophy as the top NHL rookie in 1961. He had 396 goals and added 590 assists in 1,296 NHL games. He also played 301 games in the WHA, scoring 102 goals and 189 assists.
Keon has been at odds with the Maple Leafs for nearly three decades over a variety of issues and the topic was never raised during Sunday's activities.
The decision to retire Keon's number meant defenceman Tim Billingsley had to give up the No. 9 jersey he had worn since joining the Majors for the 2006-07 season when the team was based in Toronto. He has now switched to No. 6.
And with Keon looking on from a private suite, Bureau led the Majors (15-14-1-1) to their third win in a row. Blake Parlett, Riley Brace, Jared Gomes, Casey Cizikas and Mike Pelech had one each.
Ethan Werek had a pair of goals for the Frontenacs (7-21-4-2), who lost their third in a row. Bobby Mignardi and Kelly Geoffrey scored one apiece.