As the Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club prepares to celebrate its Centennial anniversary next season, it was announced today that three of the greatest players in club history will be inducted into the team’s Legends Row monument. Dave Keon, Turk Broda and Tim Horton will be honoured with statues to be unveiled in October. The three Hockey Hall of Fame members will join previous inductees Ted Kennedy, Darryl Sittler, Johnny Bower, Borje Salming, George Armstrong, Syl Apps and Mats Sundin on Legends Row.
Keon and representatives from the Horton and Broda families will be honoured in a pre-game ceremony Saturday night as the latest Legends Row inductees are introduced to fans when the Maple Leafs play the Montreal Canadiens at Air Canada Centre.
“There have been hundreds of great players who have worn the Maple Leaf sweater during the team’s 99 seasons, but you would have a difficult time finding three players who are more loved, or better represent the greatness of this franchise and its history, than Dave Keon, Turk Broda and Tim Horton,” said Brendan Shanahan, Toronto Maple Leafs President and Alternate Governor. “Legends Row is a tribute to the men who helped make the Toronto Maple Leafs one of the most iconic clubs in sports, but it’s also an opportunity to build a strong connection between fans of all ages with that tradition. Adding the names Keon, Broda and Horton to the monument is a thrill for everyone in the organization and generations of Leaf fans.”
Known as one of the best two-way centres in the history of the game, many consider Keon to be the greatest player to ever wear the Maple Leaf. Keon played 15 seasons for the Maple Leafs, beginning with the 1960-61 season where he won the Calder Memorial Trophy as the League’s top rookie. He would lead the Leafs to the team’s four most recent Stanley Cup victories and was named winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Most Valuable Player in the 1967 Final. Keon was named captain of the Leafs on October 31, 1969, succeeding George Armstrong, and would wear the ‘C’ for his six remaining seasons with the club. He was the team’s leading scorer in three seasons (1963-64, 1966-67, 1969-70) and the team’s top goal scorer in two seasons (1970-71, 1972-73).
Not only was Keon heralded for his skill, but also for the gentlemanly way he played the game. He was named the winner of the Lady Bing Trophy in both 1962 and 1963 after receiving only one minor penalty in each of those seasons. Dave Keon retired from the NHL following the 1981-82 season and was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.
“I am very happy to have been selected with Turk Broda and Tim Horton to Legends Row,“ said Keon. “I’m looking forward to the ceremonies on Saturday.”
Walter ‘Turk’ Broda joined the Maple Leafs in 1936, purchased from the Detroit Red Wings for $7,500, a steep price during the Great Depression but turning out to be an incredible bargain. Over his first seven seasons, Broda would only miss four games, and in his career he would play more games than any other Maple Leaf goaltender, suiting up for the second most playoff games in club history along the way. In 1942, the Maple Leafs dropped the first three games of the Stanley Cup Final to Detroit, but Broda helped lead a comeback for the ages with four straight wins, a feat that had never been accomplished in the Final before and has not been equaled by any other goaltender since. Broda is widely viewed as one of the most ‘clutch’ goaltenders of all time, and over the course of his career, Broda would sport a playoff goals against average of under 2.00.
Shortly after the ‘42 Cup win, Turk would take a leave from the Maple Leafs to serve in the army during the Second World War. Two and half years later, he would return to help lead the Maple Leafs to even more Championship glory in 47, 48, 49 and 51. In his career, Broda won more games and shut out more opponents than any other Toronto goalie, winning a pair of Vezina Trophies along the way and winning more Stanley Cups than any other player in Leafs history.
Born in Cochrane, Ontario in 1930, Tim Horton joined the Maple Leafs in 1949 and made his NHL debut that season. By 1952 he had earned himself a permanent spot on the Leafs blue line and would go on to play 18 straight seasons for the club. In his years wearing jersey #7 for the Blue and White, Horton was selected to six All-Star teams, a Leafs record, and won four Stanley Cups. The blue line leader, arguably the best defenceman in team history, was a wall on defence and epitomized the combination of strength, stability and character that scouts still search for in young defencemen.
Horton’s strong work ethic extended beyond the rink and he spent his summers working in Conn Smythe’s gravel pit before branching out into the coffee and doughnut industry with the first Tim Hortons restaurant opening in 1964.
Tim Horton was the first Leaf player to reach 1,000 games, playing his final game with Toronto in 1970. The next oldest blue liner on the team was 16 years his junior. Horton played more seasons (20), and more games (1,185), in both the regular and post season (97 games and 13 seasons), than any other defenceman in Leafs history and only three NHL players played more seasons than Horton. Horton was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1977.
As George Armstrong, his Captain, would say of Tim Horton, “No finer person, teammate or hockey player has ever lived.”
Details for the Legends Row statue unveiling ceremonies, to be held in October to open the Toronto Maple Leafs 2016-17 Centennial Season, will be announced this summer.