Davey Keon, the humble warrior

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.

1 Comment »

  1. 1
    mushafta Says:

    Keon was a class act. Harold Ballard- an unmentionable name the way he treated players and Europeans, especially communists from Russia. But the ghosts of Ballard still remain, but in a different light.

    The NHL is all about money, greed and power. At the top is Garry Bettman who visits NHL venues to shame them into rebuilding their rinks into more modern state of the art showcase arenas- then getting tax payers to fund them as the owners become billionaires and the players multi millionaires.

    Ohh and did I neglect to mention number 99? Now there’s a work of art supporting the past flunkie PM and not even living in Canada.

    All about money! Whatever happened to hockey? Fr David Bauer was a great priest and a brilliant coach! Everything he stood for has become the polar opposite of the NHL today.

    God bless him and Dave Keon for his work on and off the ice over the years! Both great men!

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