Ice Hockey Wiki
Dave Keon
Position Centre
Shoots Left
5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)
163 lb (74 kg)
Nationality Flag of Canada Canadian
Born March 22, 1940,
Noranda, PQ, CAN
Pro Career 19601982

David Michael Keon (born March 22, 1940 in Noranda, Quebec), is a retired Canadian professional Centre. He played professionally from 1960 to 1982, including 15 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1986.

Playing Career

Keon played junior hockey in Toronto for the St. Michael's Buzzers of the Ontario Hockey Association's Metro Junior B league in 1956–57. In February 1957, he was named to the league's eastern all-star team and was picked by NHL scouts as the top prospect in the league. Keon was selected as the league's rookie of the year, finishing second in scoring, and his team won the league championship. He played some games that season for the Junior A St. Michael's Majors, and moved to that club full-time for the 1957–58 season. Keon played for St. Mike's through the end of the 1960 season, when he turned professional and joined the Sudbury Wolves of the Eastern Professional Hockey League for four playoff games. They would be the only games he would ever play in the minor pro leagues.

Keon joined the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League for the 1960–61 season, winning the Calder Memorial Trophy as the league's top rookie with 20 goals and 45 points in his first season. It was his first of six consecutive 20-goal seasons. In his second year in the NHL, Keon was named a second team all-star and won the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy as most gentlemanly player, taking only one minor penalty through the entire season. He repeated as Lady Byng winner in 1962–63, again taking only a single minor penalty all year.

Keon moves in on Terry Sawchuk.

He was the Leafs' leading scorer in the 1963–64, 1966–67 and 1969–70 seasons, and the team's top goal scorer in 1970–71 and 1972–73. Keon was one of the fastest skaters in the NHL, and one of the best defensive forwards of his era. He would usually play against the opposing team's top centre, and developed a reputation for neutralizing some of the league's top scorers. In 1970–71, he scored eight shorthanded goals, setting an NHL record.

Keon won four Stanley Cups with the Leafs, playing on the Cup-winning teams of 1961–62, 1962–63, 1963–64, and 1966–67. In the 1967 Cup final, he shut down Jean Béliveau, the star centreman of the Montreal Canadiens, in the final two games and was voted the most valuable player of the playoffs, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy. To this day, he so far remains the only Leaf ever to have won the trophy named for the former owner of the club.

He was named team captain on October 31, 1969, succeeding George Armstrong who was said to be retiring from hockey. Armstrong returned to the Leafs two weeks later and played for another two seasons, but Keon remained captain and would wear the C through the rest of his years with the Leafs.

Keon hoped to make Team Canada for the 1972 Summit Series, but was coming off one of the worst years of his career, finishing the 1971–72 season with his lowest points-per-game average since his rookie year. He wasn't selected for Team Canada, but the Ottawa Nationals of the World Hockey Association made a strong effort to sign Keon, whom they had placed on their negotiation list earlier that year. Harold Ballard, who had become the Leafs' majority owner in March 1972, said that Keon didn't provide the leadership the team needed during the previous season and was refusing to give Keon a big salary increase after a poor year. Keon signed a letter of intent with the Nationals, and received a $50,000 cheque from the team, but the deal fell apart. Just before training camp. Keon signed a three-year deal with the Leafs, and rebounded strongly in 1972–73, scoring 37 goals. On November 22, 1972 he scored his 297th goal as a Leaf, passing Armstrong and Frank Mahovlich to become the team's all-time leading goal scorer.

Early into the 1974–75 season, Ballard publicly blasted Keon, saying that the team wasn't getting good leadership from its captain and vowing never again to agree to a no-trade clause in a contract, as he had with Keon. When Keon's contract expired at the end of the season, Ballard made it clear that there was no place for him on the Leafs. The Leafs believed they had some strong young prospects at centre who needed more ice time, and Keon was again asking for a contract with a no-trade clause. The 35-year-old Keon was told he could make his own deal with another NHL team, but any club signing him would have been required to provide compensation to the Leafs. Ballard set the compensation price so high that other teams shied away from signing him, even though the Leafs had no intention of keeping him. In effect, Ballard had blocked Keon from going to another NHL team.

In August 1975, with the Leafs still controlling his NHL rights, Keon jumped to the World Hockey Association, signing a deal with the Minnesota Fighting Saints reportedly worth $300,000 over two seasons. The head coach of the Saints was Harry Neale, an old friend of Keon's. The team, and Keon, played well, but struggled badly financially. With 21 games left in the season, the team folded. Keon was expected to return to the NHL and wasn't included in the dispersal sale of Saints players to other WHA teams. The NHL's New York Islanders wanted Keon, but needed to negotiate a deal for his NHL rights with the Leafs. Again, the Leafs' asking price (said to have been a first-round draft pick) was too high, and a disappointed Keon signed with the WHA's Indianapolis Racers in March 1976.

The Fighting Saints were revived for the start of the WHA's 1976–77 season, and Keon was traded back to Minnesota, but the team folded for good half-way through the season (with Keon as its leading scorer). Keon was briefly the property of the Edmonton Oilers who immediately traded him to the New England Whalers in January 1977. He would remain with the team through the rest of his career. In the 1977–78 season, Keon was joined on the Whalers by Gordie Howe, the team's leading scorer, despite turning 50 before the end of the season. Keon returned to the NHL in 1979 when the renamed Hartford Whalers became one of four WHA teams to join the NHL. Bobby Hull joined the Whalers that season, with Keon, Howe, and Hull sometimes playing as a forward line. Howe and Hull retired at the end of the season, leaving Keon as the oldest player in the NHL. Keon played two more seasons with the Whalers and announced his retirement on June 30, 1982 at age 42.


Following his retirement from hockey, Keon moved to Florida and worked in real estate for several years.

Bitter over his treatment by Ballard and the Leafs, Keon refused for many years to have any relationship with the Leafs organization, even after Ballard's death and after the club changed ownership several times. Other Leaf players who clashed with Ballard's management did reconcile, most notably Keon's successor as club captain, Darryl Sittler, who accepted an invitation from GM Cliff Fletcher to return as a consultant.

Keon turned down several offers of reconciliation from the team, including an invitation to the closing ceremony for Maple Leaf Gardens in 1999 and a proposed ceremony to honour his number. Besides blaming Ballard, Keon insisted that he would not have anything to do with the club unless it changes its policy of only "honouring" numbers of former star players instead of retiring them. The current policy of the Leafs is to only retire the numbers of players who suffered a career-ending accident while a member of the team.

On March 22, 1991, with the Leafs under new management after Ballard's death, Keon played on a team of Leaf all-stars against their counterparts from the Montreal Canadiens in an old-timers game at Maple Leaf Gardens called Legends' Night in Canada.

But in January 2007, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that Keon would attend a pre-game ceremony to honour its 1967 Stanley Cup winning team. Keon was one of several members of the 1967 team to appear on-ice at the Air Canada Centre before the Leafs' game on February 17, 2007—the 80th anniversary of first game played by the Toronto franchise after being renamed the Maple Leafs in 1927. Keon was introduced to the crowd second last, just prior to 1967 captain George Armstrong, and received a long standing ovation.

Awards and Honours

In 1998, Keon was ranked number 69 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. The Aréna Dave Keon in Noranda, Quebec is named in his honor.

Career Statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1956–57 St. Michael's Majors OHA 4 1 3 4 0
1957–58 St. Michael's Majors OHA 45 23 27 50 29 9 8 5 13 10
1958–59 St. Michael's Majors OHA 47 33 38 71 31 15 4 9 13 8
1959–60 St. Michael's Majors OHA 46 16 29 45 8 10 8 10 18 2
1959–60 Kitchener-Waterloo OHA Sr. 1 0 1 1 0
1959–60 Sudbury Wolves EPHL 4 2 2 4 2
1960–61 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 20 25 45 6 5 1 1 2 0
1961–62 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 64 26 35 61 2 12 5 3 8 0
1962–63 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 68 28 28 56 2 10 7 5 12 0
1963–64 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 70 23 37 60 6 14 7 2 9 2
1964–65 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 65 21 29 50 10 6 2 2 4 2
1965–66 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 69 24 30 54 4 4 0 2 2 0
1966–67 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 19 33 52 2 12 3 5 8 0
1967–68 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 67 11 37 48 4
1968–69 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 75 27 34 61 12 4 1 3 4 2
1969–70 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 72 32 30 62 6
1970–71 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 76 38 38 76 4 6 3 2 5 0
1971–72 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 72 18 30 48 4 5 2 3 5 0
1972–73 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 76 37 36 73 2
1973–74 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 74 25 28 53 7 4 1 2 3 0
1974–75 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 78 16 43 59 4 7 0 5 5 0
1975–76 Minnesota Fighting Saints WHA 57 26 38 64 4
1975–76 Indianapolis Racers WHA 12 3 7 10 2 7 2 2 4 2
1976–77 Minnesota Fighting Saints WHA 42 13 38 51 2
1976–77 New England Whalers WHA 34 14 25 39 8 5 3 1 4 0
1977–78 New England Whalers WHA 77 24 38 62 2 14 5 11 16 4
1978–79 New England Whalers WHA 79 22 43 65 2 10 3 9 12 2
1979–80 Hartford Whalers NHL 76 10 52 62 10 3 0 1 1 0
1980–81 Hartford Whalers NHL 80 13 34 47 26
1981–82 Hartford Whalers NHL 78 8 11 19 6
NHL totals 1296 396 590 986 117 92 32 36 68 6
WHA totals 301 102 189 291 20 36 13 23 36 8


Preceded by
Mike Rogers
Hartford Whalers captains
Succeeded by
Russ Anderson
Preceded by
George Armstrong
Toronto Maple Leafs captains
Succeeded by
Darryl Sittler
Preceded by
Roger Crozier
Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
Succeeded by
Glenn Hall
Preceded by
Bill Hay
Winner of the Calder Trophy
Succeeded by
Bobby Rousseau
Preceded by
Red Kelly
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1962, 1963
Succeeded by
Ken Wharram