Dave Keon was ready to make things right with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After a lengthy standoff with the Maple Leafs organization, Keon participated in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday night as the hockey club formally announced the 75-year-old would join the Legends Row along with Turk Broda and Tim Horton in October.
Considered to be one of the best to ever wear the blue and white, Keon spent 15 seasons with the Leafs, winning the Calder Trophy in 1961. He guided the Leafs to four Stanley Cups and is the only member of the franchise to ever win the Conn Smythe Trophy (1967) as post-season MVP.
Keon, though, had been estranged from the hockey club since he left the team following the 1974-75 season. During a media availability, he described why the timing was right for him and Toronto to rekindle their relationship.
"I guess the best way to sum that up is that I was notified that I had been selected, I talked to Brendan [Shanahan], we talked a couple of times and I told him that I was honoured to be selected and if there was anything I could do, to help the ceremonies along, that I would be happy to participate and I'm here tonight," Keon said.
Talk of retiring No. 14
With a statue of Keon set to take up residence outside the ACC, the conversation turned to when his No. 14 would be honoured or retired by the club. Shanahan said there would be a "a time and a place" for No. 14 to be raised to the rafters, but that there were no immediate plans.
The No. 14 Keon wore while scoring 365 goals and 858 points in 1,062 regular season games with the Leafs, wasn't even a number he wanted when he joined the club for the 1960-61 season.
"I had a pretty good training camp, and I went to the trainer and I said 'I'd like to wear No. 24, if I make the team'," Keon recalled. "He said 'No, you can't wear 24, I'm going to give you 14'. I said 'I don't want 14' because 14 was the number given to every guy that came up and down to [the minors]. You came up for two weeks, you wore No. 14 and then you were gone again.
"That's not a good sign if you're wearing 14, but it worked out."
As part of Saturday's events, Keon sat in on the Leafs meeting prior to morning skate. It provided an opportunity for coach Mike Babcock to get to know the Leafs legend.
"One of the stories he shared with me is someone told him when he first started, in his first year, 'Are you working hard or do you think you're working hard? There's a big difference,"' Babcock said. "I think that's a reminder to all of us, whether we're a journalist or a coach or whether we're a player is we always think we're giving [it our best], but sometimes you need to get outside of your body and have a look at who you are and what the work you've done lately and that's who you are.
"So time to dig in. I thought it was a great message."