Dave Keon is widely revered as one of the finest two-way centers the NHL has ever seen. At 5'9" and 165 pounds Keon was hardly an imposing figure, but he was tough in his own right and had a knack for shutting down the opposition's best players.
Keon produced 365 goals and 858 points in 1,062 games with the blue and white, and was the team’s career leader in points for 26 years until passed by Mats Sundin in 2008.
Keon was the straw that stirred the drink on the Leafs teams that won four Cups in the 1960s. He was the NHL’s rookie of the year in ’61, the Lady Byng trophy winner in 1962 and ’63 and the Conn Smthe trophy as playoff MVP in 1967, the last time Toronto won the Cup.
Shortly after the 1967 championship, the Leafs headed into a transition period. The team aged and the decline began, and a new man rose to power in Toronto in 1971—Harold Ballard.
Ballard's clashes with players, coaches, media—pretty much everybody and anybody—are as legendary as they are infamous. Perhaps no player's battle with Ballard went as deep and long lasting as Keon's.
Keon and Ballard waged war for years and in fact, once he retired he refused to take part in any Maple Leafs functions. New Leaf regimes, and in particular Cliff Fletcher attempted to repair the wounds that dug so deep, but unfortunately, Keon has only shown a mild willingness to forgive.
Anyone who had the pleasure of watching this fabulous talent play hopes that one day Keon can return to Toronto and be properly thanked by the organization and its fans in a big-time ceremony, as would be the minimum requirement for a man that I consider the greatest Maple Leafs forward of all time, and arguably the greatest Leaf ever.