So the Toronto Maple Leafs brought back Davie Keon to honour him with a statue along with Turk Broda and Timmy Horton..Dave was the only one still living so he got a huge round of applause from Toronto fans who remember him as a class act who was treated shabbily by the former Leaf management of Harold Ballard. I watched the pre-game interview with him and he was as understated as he always was, appreciative of the honour but still a little bit embarrassed
It brought me back to a cold winter night in 1957 at the old Gardens, the home that Smythe built. In those days the players on the Toronto junior teams, St.Mike’s and Marlies all had passes to the NHL games and this night I was standing in the Blues with David. He had his pass from the Leafs and I had borrowed one from either Jack McMaster or Bobby Savage who both played for the majors. Davey was then captain of the junior B team,the Buzzers.
As we watched the warm up, Keon nudged me and he pointed out number 15 on the Leafs, a clever centre named Billy “Hinky” Harris.
“See that guy, Ted” ?
“I am going to have his job one day.’”
This was a simple matter of fact statement. Dave was never a self-promoter. He was raised very well by his parents and always exhibited a lot of humility. Yet he had much confidence in his own ability.
At this time Dave was just coming into his own as great skater and thanks to Fr.Dave Bauer’s tutelage. a fantastic two way player, in other words a great checker. And that was Billy Harris’s weakness as an NHL player. Billy was a lovely man but he was simply not the two way player Dave was, either offensively or defensively. Davey scored almost 400 NHL goals and Billy had 125. If you wanted to play in a tough 6 team league, you needed to be good defensively. David was superb.
Sure enough in little more than 2 years Dave had taken Billy Harris’s job and went on to a stellar career.
Keon returns each year from Florida to play in a golf tournament of old St.Mike’s guys and it’s old home week with friends he feels comfortable with. And he always asks for my brother Don.