Leafs legend Teeder Kennedy dies

Ted (Teeder) Kennedy, who helped lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cups in seven seasons beginning in the 1940s, has died. He was 83.

Ted (Teeder) Kennedy, who helped lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to five Stanley Cups in seven seasons beginning in the 1940s, has died. He was 83.

His son Mark told Canadian Press Kennedy died Friday morning of congestive heart failure at a nursing home in his hometown of Port Colborne, Ont.

"It was just a wearing down of the body," said Mark Kennedy. "The last three days, things became pretty serious, so it wasn't really a surprise for us. We'd been told maybe a month ago that there wasn't too many more weeks or months left."

The forward recorded 231 goals and 329 assists and 432 penalty minutes in 696 games, a career spent entirely with Toronto between 1943 and 1957.

He was named Maple Leafs captain at just 23.

Teeder Kennedy stats

Season Games Goals  Assists Pts
1942-43 2 0 1 1
1943-44 49 26 23 49
1944-45 49 29 25 54
1945-46 21 3 2 5
1946-47 60 28 32 60
1947-48 60 25 21 46
1948-49 59 18 21 39
1949-50 53 20 24 44
1950-51 63 18 43 61
1951-52  70 19 33 52
1952-53 43 14 23 37
1953-54 67 15 23 38
1954-55 70 10 42 52
1956-57 30 6 16 22
TOTALS 696 231 329 560

"The entire Toronto Maple Leaf Hockey Club sends our deepest sympathies to the Kennedy family," Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke said in a statement. "He truly was a man of great class, and he was one of the most accomplished leaders in our team's long history."

While his most productive year was 1950-51 (61 points), it was four seasons later that he was named Hart Memorial Trophy winner as league most valuable player.

It was a season that almost never happened.

Beset by injuries, Kennedy was leaning toward retirement but was talked out of it by general manager Conn Smythe. A contemporary newspaper account of the announcement indicated Smythe was giving Kennedy a raise above his $25,000 salary.

Kennedy scored 29 goals and 31 assists in 78 playoff games, with the Leafs winning the Stanley Cup five times during his tenure.

He had seven in the 1945 playoffs as the Leafs defeated Detroit in seven games to win the first Cup of his career.

His last Cup with the club was in 1951, a season in which he and linemates Sid Smith and Tod Sloan all finished in the top 10 of NHL scoring.

The Maple Leafs won it all that year on the famous overtime goal courtesy of low-scoring defenceman Bill Barilko, who would die just weeks later.

The first four Cups of Kennedy's tenure came under Hap Day, with the final one with Joe Primeau behind the bench.

The MVP season would essentially be Kennedy's last as his body broke down. He missed the next season and played 30 games in 1956-57 before retiring for good.

"The National Hockey League family mourns the passing and cherishes the memory of Teeder Kennedy, the embodiment of Maple Leaf success," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"Teeder never wanted to play for any other team, and he never did. He always wanted what was best for the Leafs, and for 14 superb seasons, that is what he helped them achieve through his leadership, his  incomparable work ethic and his ferocious will to win."

Synonymous with the Leafs, Kennedy's rights were actually first held by Montreal but they traded the teenager to Toronto.

He was born in Port Colborne, Ont., and is honoured there with the Teeder Kennedy Youth Arena.

Kennedy tried his hand at coaching junior hockey after retiring, worked in the trucking industry and was heavily involved in thoroughbred racing.

He was inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966, part of a stellar class that also included Elmar Lach, Ted Lindsay, Babe Pratt, Toe Blake and Clarence Campbell.

With files from The Canadian Press