New book on NHL legend Dave Keon a reminder of the 'romance' of hockey

Montreal Canadiens enforcer George Parros' concussion on the first day of the new NHL season has renewed debate about violence in the good old hockey game. But Dave Bidini's new book on Toronto Maple Leaf legend Dave Keon remembers a player who was tough but never felt the need to drop the gloves.

Hall of Fame forward won four Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs

Dave Keon played 15 season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning four Stanley Cups in that time. (Mike Cassese/Reuters)

This week on The Sunday Edition:

Michael's Essay: From rural Alberta to shutting down the U.S. government, Michael traces the roots of the Tea Party back to Willard Cleon Skousen, an anti-communist whose ideas inspired radio host Glenn Beck, who in turn influenced the far-right of the Republican Party.

Security Certificates
  Later this month, the Supreme Court of Canada will hold an "in camera" hearing in a secret location. The case is based on a little-used immigration tool called a "security certificate," which allows suspects to be detained for years without charge on national security grounds. 

Essay: Kyla Hannington shaves her head
A woman who always felt her hair was her best feature, decides it's time to see what it would be like .. without it.

Documentary: A Word About the Deceased
  Kick the bucket. Put to bed with a shovel. There are 200 euphemisms meaning "to die" in the English language. What stops so many of us from telling it like it is? Using the plain words - death, dying, died? Frank Faulk's documentary is called "A Word About the Deceased." 

Dave Bidini on Dave Keon
In 1967, the quick, diminutive, exquisitely skilled Dave Keon led the Leafs to their fourth Stanley Cup in six years. Musician and hockey writer Dave Bidini talks to Michael about his new book, Keon and Me: My Search for the Lost Soul of the Leafs.

Sister Elaine MacInnes
  Michael talks with Sister Elaine MacInnes, who has dedicated her life to teaching meditation to prisoners in an effort to understand and alleviate their pain. 

Sunday School with Michael Enright: The "Just War" doctrine
What -- if anything -- qualifies as a "just war"? Michael's teacher is John Berkman, a professor of moral theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto.

These are hopeful days for Toronto Maple Leafs fans. Following their first playoff appearance in eight years last spring, the Leafs are off to a winning start this season.

However, a pall has been cast over the young season by ugly incidents involving fights in an exhibition game with Buffalo and the opening night game between the Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens.

Violence is again a focal point in the hockey world, something that musician and sports writer Dave Bidini finds lamentable.

There are "wonderful moments when the game connects people,” Bidini told Michael Enright, the host of The Sunday Edition. “But those kinds of stories can’t be told anymore because the issue of fighting creates such white noise and so much interference that it corrupts the romance and the connection we have to the game. That’s one of the deeply sad aspects of this element of hockey.”

The Leafs, in particular, have a reputation for thuggery these days – something that stands in deep contrast to the subject of Bidini’s new book, Keon and Me: My Search for the Lost Soul of the Leafs.

Dave Keon, who led the Leafs to its last four Stanley Cup triumphs in the 1960s, was one of the NHL’s most skilled and dangerous players. And he did it without fighting or taking penalties.

“I think Keon was the most complete hockey player,” Bidini said. “Harry Neale told me that if you were down by a goal, he was the player you most wanted out on the ice to score. If you were up by a goal, he was the player you most wanted out on the ice to protect the lead. He played a very tough, fierce game, but an honourable game.”

Self-imposed exile

As beloved as Keon was by Leafs fans, however, he incurred the wrath of the Leafs mercurial former owner, Harold Ballard, and left the organization under a cloud in 1975. While he did return for a reunion of the 1967 Stanley Cup Champion Leafs team in 2007, Keon remains in self-imposed exile from his former team.

Bidini, who tells of his long quest to meet with the former captain in Keon and Me, attributes the long estrangement to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization’s persistent failure to do right by Keon.

Bidini also believes that the NHL could use a few players with Keon’s character today.

“He was celebrated for being a non-violent player, for playing the game the right way, and that’s antithetical to so many of our figures in hockey through today. People talk about Sidney Crosby and say, 'He’s gifted, but he’s tough.' Jarome Iginla’s gifted, but he’s tough. No one ever says, 'He’s tough, but he doesn’t fight.'"

You can hear Michael Enright’s full conversation with Dave Bidini this weekend on The Sunday Edition on CBC Radio One. 


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?