Friday, February 16, 2007

Celebrating that winning season

They’re going back some forty years in Toronto this weekend, a weekend of celebration to commemorate that 1966-67 winning Maple Leafs team that last brought Stanley across town from its usual place at the Hall of Fame. The Leafs surprised everyone with a victory over the dominant Canadiens that year.

One of the most anticipated appearances will be that of Dave Keon, the long time star of the Leafs and the last captain in Blue and White to hold the Stanley aloft and make a victory lap of the then Maple Leaf Gardens.

Since those halcyon days, the Leafs have struggled to return to the Cup Finals and Keon all but divorced himself from Maple leaf activities after a number of incidents with the Harold Ballard era Leaf management style.

Keon left the leafs in 75, heading for the exile of the WHA for most of the remainder of his career, finishing off his days in pro hockey with a stint with the Hartford Whalers who had just joined the NHL in 1979, Keon played three more years before retiring.

Countless attempts to return him to the fold fell by the wayside as the enigmatic Keon refused to let bygones be bygones. For whatever reason however, he has decided to end his self imposed absence from anything Leaf and join in with the remaining Leafs of that era for this weekend’s celebration, which will be broadcast coast to coast on Hockey Night in Canada.

There aren't many of those golden era Leafs left, so it's a long overdue reunion of Keon with his former team mates. Toronto revels in their hockey heroes, the fact that they've had to wait as long as they have thus far for a return to the Cup will guarantee that Saturday night's on ice specatacular will replay the greatest moments for many Leaf fans.

The Leafs aren't any closer to the Cup today, than they have been in the last forty years, so those great moments of 66-67 should stand to this day as some of the Glory days of Leaf hockey.

Keon was a big part of that era, its a positive thing that the Leafs could finally convince him to take his place in the team's heritage and receive the accolades that have long been delayed.

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