Dave Keon gestures during a ceremony honouring the 1967 Stanley Cup Championship team prior to the Maple Leafs game against the Edmonton Oilers in Toronto on February 17, 2007. (CP PHOTO/Aaron Harris)
Former Maple Leaf captain Dave Keon is shown in this undated file photo. (CP) Former Maple Leaf captain Dave Keon is shown in this undated file photo. (CP)

Leafs fans honour Dave Keon, 1967 Cup team

Updated Sat. Feb. 17 2007 10:02 PM ET

Canadian Press

TORONTO -- The 40th anniversary celebration of the Toronto Maple Leafs' last Stanley Cup winning team made a sellout crowd -- and former Leafs captain Dave Keon -- very happy.

"I was very appreciative of the people -- they've always been very good to me,'' said Keon, who received a minute-long standing ovation when he was introduced at Air Canada Centre. "I was very happy I was able to be a part of it.

"(Leafs GM) John Ferguson did a great job of getting (the team) here. Today was a very good experience.''

However, Keon cautioned against reading too much into his return to Toronto, brushing aside rumours he would play a bigger role with the team.

"This is one night, one weekend,'' Keon said. "Let's just leave it at that.''

For the better part of three decades, Keon had been at odds with the Maple Leafs organization over a variety of issues, including the team's reluctance to retire jersey numbers. But his position softened in recent months, and he took advantage of the chance to be welcomed back alongside the team he last won a Stanley Cup  with.

His former teammates were happy he did.

"I'm happy for Dave,'' said Bob Pulford. "Seeing him come back and get the recognition he deserved is a wonderful thing.

"It's nice that he's dropped the resentment, or whatever he felt toward the organization,'' added Pete Stemkowski, a Maple Leafs centre from 1965-68. "I've always joked with him that all the people he was fighting with are dead, so let's get back (to Toronto) and get on with it.

"Now he's back, and he doesn't want to be the centre of attention. He's happy to be one of the boys, and it's good to see him back.''

The rest of the former Maple Leafs applauded the festivities.

"I've been to a few ceremonies, and this one ranks right up there.'' said 82-year-old goalie Johnny Bower. "The crowd was great, and all of us appreciate the gesture.

"I never thought anything like this would ever happen,'' Stemkowski said. "Coming back brings back great memories, ones that I and the other guys on that team are very proud of.''

The Cup was not brought out for the ceremony, which was interesting as the trophy was at the Saddledome in Calgary for Mike Vernon's jersey retirement ceremony.


Legend hasn't set foot in a Leaf rink for years, but he'll be at the ACC Saturday night
Feb 15, 2007 04:30 AM
Mark Zwolinski -- Sports Reporter

When Dave Keon reflects on the Leafs' 1966-67 Stanley Cup-winning season, he plays it as straight as the blade he once used to guide the Leafs to their last ascent to hockey's highest honour.

In spite of the 40 years that have passed, the memories are still fresh, to be rekindled once again Saturday night in a reunion of the '67 team at the Air Canada Centre.

That season may have been one of the greatest in Keon's legendary career, one which started with a 1-1-4 skid and culminated with defeats of first-place Chicago and Toe Blake's mighty Montreal Canadiens in the playoffs.

But when it comes to assessing himself, Keon is pure Keon – he expected more.

"It was nice we won the Cup, which was the goal, but from a personal standpoint it wasn't good. ... It was the first time I didn't score 20 goals, I had 19," said Keon, who had scored 20 or more in his previous six seasons with the Leafs.

Keon was snug in his south Florida home this week, missing all the nasty weather in the city he once ruled along with the likes of Frank Mahovlich, Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk, George Armstong, and other Leaf legends.

At 66 years old and an avid golfer, Keon's sturdy value system clearly has not eroded over the years. Leaf fans are expected to reserve a huge welcome for the player who hasn't set foot in a Leaf arena since those Stanley Cup days, aside from a 1991 old-timers appearance at Maple Leaf Gardens.

His absence was prompted by a well-documented feud, starting with a bitter contract dispute with former club owner Harold Ballard and continuing today with how the club honours former players.

None of that, however, will spoil his reunion.

"Of course I'm looking forward to it," he said. "I think it's going to be a good event. I was part of that team and nothing has changed since then; I'm still part of that team."

Keon was a crewcut kid, a tenacious checker and penalty killer that helped drive not only that club, but all the Cup-winning Leaf teams earlier that decade.

Assistant coach King Clancy kept meticulous statistics and referred to Keon with high praise for leading the team in hits despite his smaller size.

"It was part of the way I played," a self-effacing Keon said in a telephone interview this week. "I didn't hit anyone, I just got in their way."

"I just kept trying to do things that made me better. I tried that season and every season I played," Keon said.

"I didn't think it was rocket science. You skate, pass, shoot. ... I always thought when you played, you never stayed the same. You had to get better, or there were times when it went the other way."

The early indications for the Leafs that season suggested the team was in for a rough ride into Canada's Centennial year.

Keon, along with Mahovlich, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Bob Baun and Mike Walton, entered the final week of the pre-season without a contract.

Carl Brewer's amateur status was restored on Dec. 1, 1966, signalling the beginning of what would become the foundation of the current NHL Players' Association. Two weeks later, the suspension of three NHL players prompted a wildcat strike by the players that lasted a week.

The Keon File 


Born March 22, 1940,

Noranda, Que.


As a teenager, went to St. Michael's College in Toronto. ... Played Junior A for four seasons. ... Joined Leafs in 1960 and scored 20 goals and 25 assists to win NHL top rookie award. ... Named NHL second team all-star the next season. ... Captained the Leafs from 1969 to 1975. ... Signed as a free agent by WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints in 1975. ... Retired at 42.


1960-75: Maple Leafs

1975-76: WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints (57 games),

Indianapolis Racers (12)

1976-77: WHA Minnesota Fighting Saints (42 games)

New England Whalers (34)

1977-79: WHA

New England Whalers

1979-82: NHL

Hartford Whalers


1,236 games, 396 goals, 590 assists


301 games, 102 goals,

189 assists


Calder Trophy (1961)

Lady Byng (1962, '63)

Conn Smythe (1967)

Hockey Hall of Fame (1986)

Leafs coach and GM Punch Imlach was hospitalized with what he feared was a heart attack on Feb. 18. That coincided with a losing streak that took the club below .500, but Clancy took over the coaching reins and went 7-1-2 in the 10 games Imlach lay in the hospital.

All the while, Keon was the steady leader. On a personal level, he was somewhat frustrated with his inability to reach 20 goals, something he'd done 11 times in his 15 years as a Leaf.

"I tried a curved stick the next year, just a little curve," Keon said. "But every batch of sticks I got, the curve kept getting bigger. I got into a scoring drought so I went back to the straighter stick."

The Leafs disposed of Chicago in six games and triumphed over the Canadiens in the final. Keon wound up with playoff MVP honours, then took part in his third victory parade.

"That (playoff MVP) was nice, but the Cup is how you judge the season," Keon said. "After the team, you judge yourself. But the ultimate goal was to win the Stanley Cup.

"We really accomplished something when most people thought it couldn't be done. Through work, determination and caring for one another, we did something important."


TORONTO (CP) - Matt Stajan has a special reason for wearing 14 on the back of his Toronto Maple Leafs sweater and it has nothing to do with Dave Keon.

If the NHL club ever decided to honour Keon by retiring 14, however, Stajan says he'd readily give it up. Keon and most of his teammates from the 1966-67 lineup that was the last to win the Stanley Cup for Toronto are to be introduced prior to the Leafs-Edmonton Oilers game Saturday night (7 p.m. ET).

Keon's participation - he's flying in from Florida for the big night - ends an estrangement from the organization that dates back to bitter contract negotiations that saw the 1967 Conn Smythe Trophy winner leave the team. Keon is also said to disagree with the club's policy to raise banners honouring certain sweater numbers rather than outright retiring the numbers.

"He was my dad's favourite player growing up," Stajan said after practice Friday.

For Mike Stajan's 40th birthday 12 years ago, family members bought him a throwback Leafs sweater with Keon's 14. It's on the basement rec room wall where he watches hockey on TV.

Matt Stajan has never met Keon and was looking forward to the chance to shake his hand Saturday.

"I've heard what he's done for the Leafs," he said. "He's one of the best players to ever wear a Leafs jersey so wearing his number, I feel privileged.

"I respect the guy. He did a lot for this organization when he played. There was a little falling out there but it'll be good to have him back.

"It's going to be great to see him back here along with his teammates. I'm sure there'll be a nice ovation for those guys."

It's often presumed he chose 14 because of his dad's preference for Keon.

"People think that's the reason I wear it, but that's not the reason I wear it," he explained. "When I was young, my uncle (Robert) wore it.

"He was a big athlete. He passed away of cancer when he was only 22 years old. I was six or seven. I've worn 14 ever since then. It kind of stuck with me. It's been kind of weird. Everywhere I've played the number has opened up because the person who wore it before me left the team. Here, Jonas Hoglund left the team."

Stajan said he might have had trepidations about putting on 14 had nobody else worn it since Keon.

"I don't think I'd have been the first one to put it on," he said. "But there's been probably six or seven guys who have worn it since he played here.

"If they said to me right now they're going to retire it, I'd be more than happy to change my number."

As it is, "Hopefully, I represent it well."

Stajan and his teammates all are eager to see the oldtimers take their bows in front of a capacity Air Canada Centre crowd of 19,600, and it's time the championship drought ended, he added.

"Toronto needs another Cup here," he said. "It's been 40 years.

"You don't want to be celebrating (another) 40 years without a Cup. Hopefully, we can feed off them, enjoy the moment and get two points."

The Leafs moved into a share of eighth place in the Eastern Conference with a 4-2 win in Philadelphia on Thursday. Now they aim to climb higher and claim one of the eight playoff berths. After that, anything could happen.

"It would be unbelievable," Stajan replied when asked what he imagines it might be like if the city's championship-started hockey community got to celebrate an NHL title after all these years without.

"Everybody's hoping for it here in Toronto, including myself," he said. "It don't know what would happen.

"There'd probably be some riots. But it'd be great. It's one of the most historic organizations and greatest fans. We've got to get a Stanley Cup here, that's for sure. The fans are deserving. As players, we're doing everything we can here."

To the Fans of Dave Keon -- Dave will attend!

Toronto Maple Leafs Of 1967 To Be Saluted

January 19, 2007

(TORONTO) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Friday that the 1967 Stanley Cup Championship team will be reunited and recognized in a pre-game ceremony when the Edmonton Oilers visit Air Canada Centre on February 17. The game also marks the 80th anniversary of the Toronto Maple Leafs first game in 1927. Several players have confirmed their participation for the game next month including; George Armstrong, Bobby Baun, Johnny Bower, Brian Conacher, Ron Ellis, Aut Erickson, Larry Hillman, Larry Jeffrey, Red Kelly, Dave Keon, Jim Pappin, Marcel Pronovost, Eddie Shack, Allan Stanley, Pete Stemkowski, and Mike Walton. 

“This is a terrific opportunity for our organization and our loyal fans to celebrate the achievement of a great team,” said John Ferguson, general manager of the Maple Leafs. “It’s really about saluting the last club of that Leafs’ era just before NHL expansion on a milestone anniversary of 40 years. It’s an occasion for them to enjoy their company once again and it also gives our fans the chance to cheer them as a group one more time.”

The 1966-67 edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs captured the franchise’s 11th Stanley Cup and fourth of the decade. The team defeated the reigning two-time Stanley Cup champion Montreal Canadiens in the sixth game on May 2, 1967 as Canada was celebrating its centennial. 

Ten members of the 1967 Maple Leafs would later be enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. A total of 11 players from the 1967 team played on the three other Stanley Cup winning teams in 1962, 1963, 1964. They are: Johnny Bower, Larry Hillman, Bob Baun, Allan Stanley, Red Kelly, George Armstrong, Dave Keon, Bob Pulford, Eddie Shack, Frank Mahovlich and the late Tim Horton. Terry Sawchuk, Bruce Gamble, Horton, and coach and general manager Punch Imlach are the only gentlemen from the 1967 team that are deceased.

The Maple Leafs compiled a record of 32 wins, 27 losses, and 11 ties in 70 games in the 1966-67 regular season. The team’s 75 points placed them third in the standings behind Chicago (94 points), and Montreal (77). The Maple Leafs eliminated the first-place Chicago Blackhawks in six games in the opening round before completing the same feat in the Stanley Cup Final against the Canadiens.

Dave Keon led the team in regular season scoring with 52 points (19g, 33a) and he finished 12th among all NHL players in points that season. He earned the Conn Smythe Trophy as ‘the most valuable player for his team in the playoffs’ that year. Jim Pappin scored the Stanley Cup winning goal and he led all NHL players with seven goals and 15 points during the 12 games of the 1967 post-season. Forty years ago, the team was bolstered in the nets for the third and final season by two of hockey’s greatest goalies; Johnny Bower at age 42 and Terry Sawchuk at age 37. The unlikely playoff run came on the heels of a regular season in which the team needed three other goalies (Gamble, Gary Smith and the late Al Smith) at various points of the season. In addition, King Clancy spelled an ill Punch Imlach for a 10 game stretch behind the bench and led them to a 7-1-2 record.

Interestingly enough, the team had a 10-game losing streak from January 15 to February 8 scoring just 15 goals before regrouping to capture the Stanley Cup over their national rival. The hallmark of the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs was their experience. They sported the oldest lineup to ever win the Stanley Cup, with an average age of 31. Seven players were over 35 and 12 members were over age 30. Bower and Stanley (age 41) were the oldest members of the team in the last year of the Original Six.

Sign the petition to get Dave's number 14 retired HERE!

Mike Strobel

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Davey Keon will never stand at centre ice as his jersey is raised to the ACC rafters. He simply won't do it


But, Davey, you're a Leaf. Forever. Always. Right?

The line from Florida goes quiet.

"No," murmurs the greatest Leaf who ever lived. "I am not.

"I just played for them."

Ouch. Jeez. Oooomph.

That takes the wind out of our sails, we Dave Keon diehards.

Who does Davey think he is, a Whaler? A Minnesota Fighting Saint? An Indianapolis Racer?

I get on the blower to Bill Pauhl in Hamilton.

Bill, 50, is the chief keeper of Keon's flame.

I have written lately about his online petition urging the Maple Leafs to retire No. 14 and end the blood feud with its old captain.

Unless you have been dead or in Ottawa the past 30 years, you know that Davey does not tread on Leaf Nation soil.

Not since shallow Hal Ballard forced him to jump to the WHA.

So Davey refuses to come to the ACC to have his number "honoured" in the rafters and join the likes of Salming, Sittler, Bower, Kelly, Armstrong and Apps.

No matter that Ballard long ago moved his box seats to Park Lawn Cemetery.

"I feel sorry for Davey, really, to carry it on so much," says Bill Pauhl.

"Most people would have to get help for that kind of bitterness."

Bill is a tad sour, too, after last week.

The petition was up to 1,664 when he drove it in to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Keon was signing autographs.

"You'll have to wait in line," said Ron Ellis.

Just as the session ended, Keon pulled Bill aside.

They last met, briefly, memorably for one of them, at Keon's hockey camp eons ago.

Now, Keon said: Thanks, but no thanks. Please deep-six the campaign.

Little has changed, he told Bill, between him and team brass.

"I really don't like them. We're at an impasse. They say they've changed, but they haven't."

Bill left crestfallen.

"I felt like I had just run into a brick wall head-first," he reported on the petition site.

"I am very sad and disappointed ... knowing that I was wasting my time while at the same time getting everyone's hopes up for nothing.

"Many nights I dreamt of Dave standing at centre ice receiving such a huge ovation as his number was raised to the rafters.

"(Now) we will never have our day with Dave Keon."

When I reach Bill, he is still reeling.

"I've never heard such bitterness in a man's voice.

"Dave could have done it for us. He could have said, 'Yes, I have issues with the Leafs' organization, but because of my wonderful fans, I'll do it.'

"But this ... Bill Pauhl pauses.

"This is very selfish."

A heartbreaker, our Davey.

The man is maddening. Smoothest, prickliest, sweetest, tartest, openest, stubbornest, cheeriest, dourest, calmest, fieriest guy you'd ever want to meet.

Depends who you ask.

Polite as pie to Bill and me. Old school gentleman.

Clean and classy. Remember that in 22 pro seasons he amassed just 137 penalty minutes.

This, though possessing the heart of a lion, as Dick Duff reminded us at his own HHOF ceremony last week.

Principled, too, by golly.

But there is line between being principled and being a jerk.

I have suggested lately that the rift between Keon and the Leafs is a curse that explains our Stanley Cup drought of 40 years.

Crikey. There is no Keon Curse. The Decades Of Corporate Complacency Curse is more like it.

But it would do a world of good to clear the air with Keon.

Any chance, Davey?


But your fans... "You have to get on with life. I have."

What if John Ferguson changes policy and retires your jersey, not just "honours" it?


Nothing on God's green earth we can do to thaw your heart?


"I doubt it."

Oh, no. Someone put us Keon fans out of our misery.

Mike Strobel's column runs daily, Wednesday to Saturday.

November 8th, 2006

Will Dave Keon's number take its rightful place in the ACC rafters?


Editor's NOTE: A gremlin (the Keon Curse?) consumed Strobel's column last Saturday and replaced it with a rerun of an older opus. Here is the latest on the drive to honour #14.

The online petition to retire Dave Keon's number, and chase a dark cloud from the Leafs, is near 1,400 names.

As in 14 hundred. That is a splendid omen.

So is this, from Leafs GM John Ferguson:

"We're reaching out to him," Fergie Jr. tells me.

"I've got his phone number from Davey Jr. (who works at the ACC) and I will be talking to him."

It's late in the third, folks.

Can it be long before #14 floats high above centre ice?

Can it be long before a Stanley Cup banner follows suit?

Last month I put two and two together and realized we have been bereft of Cups since the team and its greatest-ever player divorced.

The Curse of Davey Keon.

The split, you know, was ugly. Mostly over contract and playing rights.

Davey has not set foot on Leaf soil since, though nemesis Harold Ballard is dead for, lo, these 16 years.

Now's the time to square things.

"Even his family wants to get it done," says superfan Bill Pauhl, 50, keeper of the petition. (

Keons named Steven, Holly, Rick and Lynsey and a bevy of kin, friends and neighbours have signed, with comments.

"Dave Keon is my grandpa. I am proud of him."

There's even a Keon Bishop, named after the great captain. Same for a few Davids.

And this: "I'm a Habs fan, but Keon's why I like hockey."

The Habs? They have retired nine numbers (1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 12 and 16).

This has hardly slowed them down. Montreal has won, ahem, 10 Cups since our last.

The Leafs retire numbers only of "distinguished players who have died or had their careers shortened due to tragic or catastrophic circumstances while being a member of the team," says the press guide.

So, #5 (Bill Barilko) and #6 (Ace Bailey) are out of circulation. But not Keon's 14.

Is getting screwed by Old Man Ballard not a "catastrophic circumstance?"

Look at retired numbers around the league. Dit Clapper, Ken Daneyko, Clark Gillies, Yvon Labre, Dale Hunter, Al MacInnis, Bob Nystrom, Stan Smyl, Thomas Steen...

Not bad players, sure. But not a Keon in the bunch.

"This can't wait forever," says Pauhl. "If they wait 'til Davey dies, I'll rip up my Leafs jersey.

It should not come to that, Bill. Something is afoot. The planets are lined up at centre. Keon turns 67 next March 22.

Ah, yes, '67. Forty years have passed since Keon hoisted our last Cup.

At Young's Point, north of Peterborough, Marg Briggs, 55, is collecting more names in support of Keon, while pumping gas at the Petrogold.

"A lot of us grew up with Davey's Leafs," she says.

"Some people ask if he's still alive.

"Kids ask who he was. I tell them, and they sign the petition. "A lot of women sign. They say he's kind of cute."

There. Another reason to hoist that jersey. Anyway:


"I can't change history," says John Ferguson. "Davey has an open invitation to come back and be honoured and have his number raised to the rafters."

Officially retired?

"We've discussed that internally and out of respect for everyone who has gone before ... it wouldn't be appropriate for one player."

Sounds like there's wriggle room. Besides, the current Leafs are chugging along nicely.

Why not get that curse out of the way? Plan the parade.

"It's a perfect time for the Leafs to do this for Davey Keon," says Pauhl.

"And it's a perfect time for Mr. Keon to give in. For the fans."

Odd thing. No NHL team has ever retired a #14.

Brendan Shanahan likely will be the first.


Mike Strobel

  October 13, 2006

Fans push for Davey Keon

Mark your calendar: March 22, 2007.

Anniversary of the first Stanley Cup playoffs. (Montreal went on to beat Ottawa in 1894.)

It is also Bill "Captain Kirk" Shatner's birthday.
Also Chico Marx. Karl Malden, Reese Witherspoon. Elvis Stojko. Marcel Marceau, Andrew Lloyd Webber.

Best of all ...
Next March 22, the greatest Leaf of all time turns 67.
Get it? Sixty-seven, '67, 1967. A cosmic convergence. The pucks are aligned.
Perfect. Here's what we(the fans) hope happens.

On March 24, the Leafs host Buffalo.
Pre-game lights dim. The air crackles.
Andy Frost's magical pipes shiver our timbers in the dark:
"Ladieeees and gentlemen. Hockey fans around the world.
"He joined the Leafs in 1960, won the Calder Trophy that year and the Lady Byng in 1962 and '63. He had the best backhand in hockey ..."
The crowd begins to sense what is coming. Gasps rise all around the ACC.
"He played in eight all-star games and in 1967, the last year the Leafs won the Cup, he was named playoff MVP."
Andy feels it, too. His voice is growlier than ever.
"Please, welcome back to the fold, the captain, numberrr 14 ...
"Daaaaa-veeeeey Keon!"
The joint goes nuts. Davey steps into a spotlight, long black locks now short and grey, loopy grin still shy and secretive.
We stand and cheer for 10 minutes. We belt out Happy Birthday. They raise a No. 14 banner to the roof.
Then Keon waves and fades back into the shadows. But he is in the dark no more.
The curse is dead. Dead as Harold Ballard.
"What a wonderful birthday present for Davey that would be, and for all Leaf fans," Marg Briggs tells me down the line from Young's Point, north of Peterborough.
Marg, 55, pumps gas at the Petrogold on Hwy. 28.
She read my columns last week urging the Maple Leafs to end their decades-long rift with Keon, to retire his number and remove the evil spell.
They need to get off their ass," says Marg, whose petition at the gas station has garnered 50 names in a couple of days.
When Davey was a young stud centre, he lived down the street from Marg's aunt and uncle in Scarborough.
"I adored him," she remembers. "Kids in the neighbourhood used to go up to him outside his house and he never turned anyone away.
"We couldn't believe it. Davey Keon. It was like meeting a rock star."

Last week I told you about superfan Bill Pauhl, whose website includes a petition asking the Maple Leafs to do the right thing by our Davey.
"It truly is a cloud over the team and it has to be removed," says Bill, 50, of Hamilton.
For years, Bill has been alone in the wilderness, sneaking posters onto ACC washroom walls and tending his website.

But now there is a committee. So far it is just Bill and me, but he is looking to ex-Leafs and friends of Davey to join.
Matt Stajan, the current #14, would be more than welcome.
Surely, when Captain Keon sees this is serious and from the heart, he will relent and set foot once more in Leaf Nation.
All the signs are there.
Even Abu Dhabi is on side.
Neil Abrahams, CEO of the United Arab Emirates' horse racing federation, e-mails me:
"As a young Leafs fan, I spent many nights watching Hockey Night in Canada in the hope I would see some of that Keon Magic.
"I too hope that one day the Keon banner will be raised."
Rosemary Gibbons, of Newmarket, sends a poem.
The days of Baun and Stanley, Kelly, Bower, Horton too,
Harris, Pulford, Duff, Armstrong, Big M, Stewart, what a crew,
My jersey sports my favourite, the heart of the '60s team,
Number 14, Davey Keon, oh, the memories, oh, the dream!
C'mon, John Ferguson. Just do it. The tide rises.
We'll even save you a piece of birthday cake.
Funny thing. Two days ago, I drop off Leafs tickets to the grandfather of a kid who won a contest of mine.
Who's he taking? I ask.
"He's thinking of a friend from his hockey team."
That's nice.
"Davey Keon's grandson."
There is magic in the air.

Strobel at (416) 947-2265 or e-mail at

Mike Strobel

Wednesday, October 4, 2006

The Davey Keon curse

We'll have to break it if the Leafs are to have a chance at the Cup

Forty years without a sniff at the Stanley Cup.

How can this be, in hockey's Mecca? It's damn unnatural.

We might as well face facts. Move over Billy Goat, Bambino, Billy Penn ...

"Born in Noranda in the spring of forty,
Nimblest skater in this land of hockey,
Everyone thinks he's mighty grumpy,
Killed him a bear when he was only three?
It's Davey, Davey Keon
King of the Leafs' Cup years."

Sing it out loud. Call it what it is.
The Curse of Davey Keon.
How else to explain why we have not held a Cup since 1967.
Tampa Bay has won it. Raleigh. Dallas. No curses hanging over them, just high humidity and the aroma of fruit trees.
We have been shut out, not even a spot in the final, since Keon took his four-Cup ring and stalked out on the Leafs after management refused to let him go to a new NHL team.

"Fought single-handed through the Ballard war,
Till the crap got too much and Hartford paid more,
And while he was battling that stingy old whore,
Made himself a legend, forevermore,
Davey, Davey Keon, we fans just want you near."

Since then, Keon has not set foot in Leaf Nation, not in Maple Leaf Gardens or the ACC.
The post-Harold Ballard brass have wooed back other greats. Red Kelly and Borje Salming are the latest to have their numbers honoured.
But not Keon. Not #14.
Funny, but Davey took that number in 1960 because no other Leaf would. Few who wore it lasted with the big club.
Ever hear of Andy Barbe? Dusty Blair? The legendary Ted Hampson wore #14 the year before Keon. Scored two goals.
If #14 was cursed, Keon had the cure. The '60s were a magical decade in which to grow up a Leafs fan.
Will we see the likes of those heady days again?
Not until we undo the Keon Curse. Not until the Leafs honour his number, with or without him, at the ACC.
Hell, go for broke, break policy, actually retire #14.
Only Bill Barilko (#5) and Ace Bailey (#6) were so sanctified.
Need an excuse? Well, Keon is the best all-round Leaf ever. And maybe the hockey gods will let us win another Cup.
Let's all stand and cheer like mad, watch the #14 banner rise, and exorcise the demons.
So what if Davey doesn't show. Someone has to be the grownup. Mr. Tanenbaum? Mr. Peddie?
We'll even chip in and buy Matt Stajan new jerseys.
Speaking of Barilko, Bashing Bill is credited with an earlier Leaf "curse." Toronto went Cupless from 1951 (he scored the winner), when his plane crashed, till 1962, when it was found in the northern bush.
We have more to learn from other sports curses, especially those newly dispelled.
The Curse of the Bambino lasted 86 years after the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees, until Boston's heroic 2004 World Series win.
Fans brought professional exorcists to Fenway Park, took a Red Sox cap up Mt. Everest, and prayed lustily for decades.
Some curses are hard to shake.
Chicago White Sox won the Series last fall, their first since the game-fixing 1919 "Black Sox."
Hmm. That also took 86 years. Don't tell me the Leafs are out of luck until 2053. Come home to us, please, Davey boy.
The cross-town Cubs are still batting zero under the Curse of the Billy Goat, since a barkeeper and his pet were evicted from Wrigley Field in 1945.
I have been to the bar once owned by William "Billy Goat" Sianis, under a street in downtown Chicago. The place has an air of despair, though the cheeseburgers are delicious.
Other sports curses: The Chicago Black Hawks, for the 1927 firing of head coach Pete Muldoon, who then declared, "The Black Hawks will never finish first" in the regular season. This proved true until 1967.
Philadelphia teams have been damned since a new skyscraper's shadow fell on a statue of William Penn in 1987.
Buffalo is cursed, period. Ask the Bills and Sabres. The latter fell victim to the Brett Hull Skate in the Crease Curse.
Japan's baseball Hanshin Tigers have been ill-starred since a fan tossed a stolen Colonel Sanders statue into a river.
Sports Illustrated and John Madden video games have been bad luck for stars who appeared on their covers.
Breaking the Curse of Davey Keon should be a breeze. Retire his number, for crying out loud. Bring on the Cup.

"Well, he lost his love, and his grief was gall,
In his heart he wanted to stick it to 'em all,
If we raise his shirt, maybe even this fall,
I bet he answers at last, Leaf Nation's call.
Davey, Davey Keon, let's end the curse right here."

• You can call Mike Strobel at (416) 947-2265 or e-mail at

Seeing Matt Stajan wear number causes pause for retirement

By John Kernaghan
The Hamilton Spectator
Toronto Thu, October 5, 2006

Bill Pauhl watched the jerseys of three Leaf legends lofted in honour at the Air Canada Centre last night and wished for the thousandth time or so that his hero, Dave Keon, would some day take his bows.

Pauhl, an operating engineer who lives on East 19th Street on Hamilton Mountain, has been gathering names on an online petition asking the Maple Leafs to retire Keon's No.14.

"We're up to around 1100 names on the web site and though Dave wrote thanking me for the support, he asked me not to promote it."

Still, he kept soliciting names because he felt only a petition would sway the hockey club.

But the Leafs choose to honour numbers, not retire them, and last night Borje Salming's No. 21, Red Kelly's No. 4 and another No.4, Clarence 'Hap' Day's, were raised to the rafters.

The only Leaf numbers retired were as a result of shortened careers due to tragedies. Ace Bailey's No.6 was set aside after a serious head injury ended his career in the 1930s and Bill Barilko's No. 5 was immortalized after he died in a plane crash in the 1950s.

Keon, meantime, rarely speaks to the media and not about the sweater retirement issue. There's no doubt he has not shaken the deep hurt in being chased from the team during the reign of the dysfunctional Harold Ballard in the early 1970s.

But last night as he watched Matt Stajan skate with Keon's No. 14, Pauhl admitted he is rethinking the issue of retiring the number. It rekindled memories of the sweetest skating Leaf ever and the guy with the most complete game.

"I see that 14 on the ice and I get a thrill thinking of him when he was with the Leafs, so I'm torn now. Maybe the problem could be solved if Keon's name was honoured somewhere, maybe the sleeve, on whoever wears No.14."

So Keon remains in limbo, an acknowledged cornerstone of the franchise but still harbouring deep resentment, even though ownership and management has changed.

Kelly was a contemporary of Keon's and a member of the three 1960s Leaf Stanley Cup winners. He switched from defence in Detroit to centre in Toronto and didn't lose a beat. He coached the Leafs in the mid-1970s, too.

Day, who will be honoured posthumously, was an original Leaf in 1927 and team captain, coach and manager in a 30-year career with the franchise. He played two years with Hamilton Seniors before joining Toronto.

Salming was brilliant and brave in paving the way for Europeans in the NHL, taking a horrific hammering in the early stages of his 16-year Leaf career to finish fourth, with 768 points, on the team's all-time list.

Current players relished the special moments last night.

"It will be just as exciting seeing Borje Salming's No.21 going up to the rafters as my first game as a Leaf," said centre Michael Peca before the game.

"He definitely deserves it with all the abuse he took when he played here," said winger Alex Steen. "

Mike Strobel

Thu, October 5, 2006

When will the Leafs honour Dave Keon?


Give me nine Dave Keons and I will win you a Stanley Cup every year. -- Punch Imlach

"Hey, kid," barks Davey Keon. "You in the blue."

Billy Pauhl, 14, skates forward of the line, tongue-tied.

In shinny games, he is Davey Keon, wears No. 14, plays centre, mimics that hurly-burly bullet style.

Keon throws him a pass, smooth as fresh cream, smack on the tape.

Class in session. Harris-Keon Hockey School, a couple of years after the '67 Cup.

The old Forum in downtown Hamilton is cold and dank like a hockey bag. They call it The Barn.

Keon is making his token appearance. Sideburns. Dark curly hair.

The greatest Leaf who ever lived tells Billy and the other boys how to skate.

"Get on your toes and dig in really hard and fast.

"It's a violent, violent move. You should actually tear up the ice."

Then Keon speeds down the boards to the blue line and picks the top corner with a snapshot.

"My, that was something to see," Bill Pauhl, 50, tells me.

Now he is a building engineer with two kids and still Davey Keon's truest fan.

The Hamilton Forum is long gone.

Keon is long gone from the Leafs. Gone and bitter, still gagging on the bad taste of Harold Ballard.

Ballard is gone, too. Cold in his miser's grave.

So is the Stanley Cup, it seems, after 40 years of drought in Toronto.

Only the curse remains: The Curse of Davey Keon.

I wrote of this yesterday and reworked the Ballad of Davy Crockett to suit.

A gremlin, maybe even Harold's ghost, screwed up the opening verse. It should go:

Born in Noranda in the spring of forty,

Nimblest skater in this land of hockey,

Everyone thinks he's mighty grumpy,

Killed him a bear when he was only three?

Davey, Davey Keon, king of the Leafs' Cup years.

This leads me to Bill Pauhl's website,, which includes a petition to retire our Davey's number and hang it from the ACC rafters whether he wants it or not.

"This has been bothering me for years," says Bill.

Such a gesture is sure to reverse the Keon Curse.

Do you believe in curses, Bill?

"There's definitely something hanging over that team."

Keon sent him a thank-you note and signed photo for the site.

But he added: "Please don't promote having my number retired."

"Actually, I admire his stand," Bill tells me. "I'm the same kind of guy who'd cut off my nose to spite my face, to make a point."

But this super-fan is steadfast in his quest, though he has mixed emotions about taking No. 14 out of action.

"It just thrills me to see that number on the ice."

Matt Stajan wears it now.

Maybe, says Bill, they could "retire" No. 14, but let it be worn by others, with Keon's name getting permanent honourable mention on the back.

Last year, Bill called John Ferguson's office to let him know about the petition. He hoped to tell him: "This is what we want as Leaf fans and we're not going to stop until Dave Keon has his day."

But he got a secretary and never heard back.

This strikes him as odd, since John Sr. played in Montreal, where retiring numbers of the greats is as much a right as a rite.

The Leafs fully retire numbers only of tragic figures. So far, Bill Barilko (5) and Ace Bailey (6).

Others have been "honoured" in the rafters, but not No. 14.

Blame stubbornness all around.

Super-fan Bill even has a graceful out for Keon.

"All he has to say is, 'I'm doing this for my fans.'

"Whatever is bothering him, he can hang on to that. Just come out for one day. For us."

I hope Davey sees the light.

If not, Mr. Ferguson, just do it. Retire the number. If Davey won't show up, screw him. Do it anyway.

This 40-year losing streak sucks.



5 Bill Barilko 6 Ace Bailey


1 Turk Broda
1 Johnny Bower
7 Tim Horton
9 Charlie Conacher
9 Ted Kennedy
10 Syl Apps
10 George Armstrong
27 Frank Mahovlich
27 Darryl Sittler
4 Clarence "Hap" Day
4 Leonard "Red" Kelly
27 Borje Salming
You can call Mike Strobel at (416) 947-2265 or e-mail at

Retire No. 14, Leaf fan urges
Web site contains petition to honour Dave Keon
Scott Radley
The Hamilton Spectator
Dave Keon won four Stanley Cups during his brilliant career with Toronto Maple Leafs. He also was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy

If you've ever played road hockey -- and I'm betting you have -- you'll know that there are a few things that have happened in every game ever held in this country.

Play has been halted and the nets dragged to the side of the street at least a few times by players yelling Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaar! An argument has broken out about who has to retrieve the ball that is now half a block away and still rolling after a wayward slapshot missed the net. Someone has taken home a bruise from a frozen tennis ball smashing into their legs or butt. And before the game, players have claimed the names of their heroes as their roles for the drama about to unfold.

Decades ago, you would have yelled, "I'm Richard" or "I'm Syl Apps," depending on your team allegiance. Later years brought the names Sittler, Lafleur, Salming, Gretzky, Lemieux, Bossy and any other favourites to the street. Today Sundin or Yzerman or Iginla are good bets. If you were really lucky, you had a team sweater with that player's number on the back. That usually gave you dibs on that player in the event of a disagreement.

When Bill Pauhl was a kid, there was no question who he was going to be when the nets came out. He was Dave Keon. Arguing was pointless. The dozen or so kids he played with regularly didn't even bother. They knew.

"I drove them nuts," he says.

It was the same when they played on the ice at a local park. Or at Brantdale School. Or playing minor hockey at Inch Park Arena and later Mountain Arena. He was Keon. And he always wore Keon's familiar number 14.

From the time Pauhl was 10, he was a fan of the little Leaf. It may have been an emotional thing stemming from the fact his father died around the time he began to take a serious interest in Keon. It may be because he always admired Keon's style of play. He was a hard working. A leader. A scorer. The guy with the best backhander in hockey.

Every Saturday night was Hockey Night in Canada Night in the Pauhl household. They would eat chips, drink pop and he would study his hero.

He even met him once. At a hockey school at the Hamilton Forum, Keon picked Pauhl -- dressed head to toe in blue -- out of a cluster of students and demonstrated a passing drill with him.

Now 46, Pauhl is reticent to let go of the good times those days represent.

"That name means a lot of good times for me as a kid," he says. "If I was to let go of Number 14, I would have to let go of so many childhood memories and I'm not about to do that."

So, in an act that falls somewhere between undying respect and hero worship, he has created a Web site dedicated to Keon. But it's more than just a shrine. Pauhl's site -- -- contains an online petition to ask the Maple Leafs to retire the former captain's number.

He hopes to get enough electronic signatures to make it worthwhile to print and deliver to club president Ken Dryden. That, he hopes, would lead to Keon's name and number being hoisted to the Air Canada Centre rafters.

"Dave Keon meant a lot to that team," he says. "I think there are a lot of Toronto Maple Leafs' fans because of Dave Keon."

He's right. But he's also facing an uphill battle. There are a few challenges that stand in the way of success in this venture.

The largest would seem to be the Leafs' reluctance to retire numbers. Only Bill Barilko and Ace Bailey have received that distinction and both were the victims of tragic circumstances. The franchise chooses instead to honour great players.

And there's the matter of getting enough people to sign the petition to make it worthwhile. So far he has only 50 names on the list.(Many More Now Since this Article !!) This is partially due to the fact that few people know the site exists. He has only recently been advertising.

But it also has something to do with the passage of time. Few young fans know much about Keon. They don't know he is the only Leaf to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. They don't know he played over 1,000 games for the team. They aren't aware he won back-to-back Lady Byng Trophies. Or that he won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1961. Or that he is considered one of the greatest penalty killers of all time. They are unaware he's a hall of famer. Or that he won four Stanley Cups.

They don't even know that Keon was once traded as part of a package with one of the Hanson Brothers from Slapshot. It's true. In 1975, he fled the Leafs to join the WHA. But a year later, his Minnesota Fighting Saints sent him to Edmonton. The Oilers then turned around and dealt him to the New England Whalers along with Steve Carlson.

Pauhl found out just how little some people know about his hero when he visited a Maple Leaf-based Web site a few days ago. He went on a message board and found himself frustrated.

"I finally asked if anyone knows who Dave Keon is," he says. "Some guy said, 'yeah, he's the guy from the Via One commercial.'"

That doesn't deter him. His son-Jeremy and his 10-year-old nephew-Jacob now wears No. 14 on their sweaters at his urging. Pauhl's bedroom walls have photos of Keon. He's written to the former captain who now lives in Florida and isn't upset by the lack of a reply. ( Dave has sent me a letter and an autographed picture personalized to me. )

If he ever needed a sign that he should continue, he got it earlier this hockey season. It came during an odd moment in his own hockey career.

He still plays oldtimers hockey and has always worn No. 14. This season he was traded. When he showed up, he was expecting to have to finally break down and depart with the tradition he established decades ago. Instead, he got a pleasant surprise.

"The guy said, 'All I've got is 14,'" he says. "My eyes lit up as he threw it across the room." or 905-526-2440.

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