DAVE KEON - BIOGRAPHY
Ask Dave Keon what a penalty box is and he might have a tough time telling you.
Sound strange? If you have followed the centerman's career then you know that the diminutive Keon, he stood only 5'9" and weighed a paltry 165 pounds, was not just a great hockey player, but he was one of the game's cleanest and most gentlemanly players. In fact, in 1597 combined NHL and WHA regular season contests, Keon only accumulated 137 minutes of penalties and six times he played an entire season with totaling only two penalty minutes.
After a year of "B" hockey, Keon played three full seasons and a smattering of a fourth for the St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey Association. It was with the Majors, a team that was always scouted thoroughly by the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, that Keon found his niche in the game. While showing promise as a goal scorer and playmaker, Keon was never the strongest or biggest player on the ice. Keon worked on developing his skating, puck handling, and checking skills and would soon develop into one of the NHL's best defensive forwards.
When Keon finally earned a spot on the Maple Leafs in the 1960-61 season, the forward posted an impressive 20 goals and 25 assists over the course of 70 games en route to winning the Calder Trophy as the league's standout rookie. Most impressive though about his rookie season was his ability to play at such a high level while only posting six penalty minutes for the year. Avoiding the penalty box would become a regular occurrence throughout Keon's career.
The only way Keon could have topped his rookie season was to win the Stanley Cup. And indeed he and his Maple Leafs not only won the Cup during Keon's sophomore season, but also in the next two years to follow. Keon had established himself during this three-year "championship" period as a legitimate 20-goal and 60-point player.
During the 1961-62 campaign, Keon played in 64 contests and managed to accumulate a scant two minutes of penalties. Keon repeated the feat the following season, this time participating in 68 games. It is no surprise that Keon won the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly play at a high skill level during both of those seasons.
Keon would help lead his Toronto Maple Leafs to a fourth Stanley Cup championship during the 1966-67 season. Keon, a 52-point scorer during the regular season, managed just three goals and five assists during the postseason, but his excellent defensive play and penalty killing earned him the Conn Smythe Trophy as the postseason's most valuable player. Many who remember that Maple Leafs-Canadiens finals cite Keon, who notched just a goal and assist in the series, as being the reason why Toronto was able to secure the Cup that year.
Keon played with the Maple Leafs through the 1974-75 campaign, but while he maintained a high level of play, Toronto suffered through a couple of lean years. Still, Keon reached his highest goal scoring totals of his career, notching at least 32 goals on three separate occasions including a 38-goal outburst in the 1970-71 season. Keon's 38-goal season came just one year after succeeding George Armstrong as Captain of the Maple Leafs.
Keon played 15 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs but then jumped to the upstart World Hockey Association. Keon spent time with the Minnesota Fighting Saints and the Indianapolis Racers before finding a home in Hartford with the New England Whalers. As a Whaler, Keon twice won the Paul Daneau Trophy, which was the WHA's equivalent of the Lady Byng Trophy. When the WHA ceased operations, Keon remained with the Whalers when they joined the NHL in the 1979-80 season and played his last three seasons as a professional in Hartford.
Keon certainly enjoyed a professional career that any player could look back on and be
proud of. In 1296 NHL regular season contests, Keon notched 396 goals and amassed 590
assists. It was no surprise to anyone that Dave Keon was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of
Fame in 1986.
KEON MISSES OUT ON FOUR MORE CUPS !!In 1980, the New York Islanders sought to sign Keon as the final piece of their soon-to-be dynasty. But Toronto still owned Keon's NHL rights and Ballard again killed the deal. The Islanders acquired Butch Goring instead, won four Cups in a row, and Keon finished his career in relative obscurity in the WHA and for three seasons with the Hartford Whalers after the merger.
Where It All Went WrongSports fans love to reminisce over the days where it all went wrong: the wasted draft pick, the tragic trade or the defecting hero. These may not be, by definition, the worst roster moves ever made, but they were the ones that affected us on a personal level. These are the events that caused -- and still cause -- us to sit on our bar stools and lament the cruel twists of life.
No other fans weave themselves into the tapestry of their team like Maple Leafs fans , who regard these players as sons, nephews, brothers. They wrote in about the ugly Harold Ballard days, which saw the trades of fan favorites like Dave Keon, Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sittler, and Russ Courtnall; not to mention non-Ballard dispatching of Frank Mahovlich in 1968 and Wendel Clark in 1994.