Like other Leafs captains before him, such as Ted Kennedy, Syl Apps and George Armstrong, Dave Keon could do it all. He was a gifted goal scorer, a tireless skater, a relentless checker, a superb playmaker and a leader who avoided the penalty box.
In 1960, he jumped to the NHL and won the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year in 1961. In his second season, he played on a Stanley Cup winner, his biggest thrill. His second biggest was capturing the Cup a fourth time in ’67 and being named MVP of the playoffs. He remains the only Leaf to win the Conn Smythe Trophy. “It was a wonderful time to be a Leaf,” he says, “playing in the ’60s and winning four Stanley Cups.”
One of only five Leafs to play more than 1,000 NHL games, Keon set team records with 365 goals and 858 points. Both marks were later erased by another great captain, Darryl Sittler. Keon was twice awarded the Lady Byng Trophy for his gentlemanly play and he rarely visited the penalty box. When Bobby Hull was barred from Team Canada in 1972 because he had jumped to the WHA, there was a storm of criticism. The furor over Hull’s omission overshadowed the anger of Keon fans, who felt this great little player who excelled in “European style” hockey, should have been selected. Jim Proudfoot, writing in the Toronto Star, said, “Keon was the most talented individual omitted from Team Canada.”