The only Quebecer still alive from the last Leafs cup hurts for his former team

The only Quebecer still alive from the last Leafs cup hurts for his former team


TORONTO | It's not just the fans who are going through the endless way of the cross in Toronto. For glories of the Maple Leafs' rich past like Dave Keon, the only surviving Quebecer from the last conquest of 1967, the pain is just as acute.

At the time, Keon, a Rouyn-Noranda native, was the Leafs’ all-around center. His flawless defensive play muzzled the Canadiens' attack in the Finals and he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player.

The Maple Leafs hoisted their fourth Stanley Cup in six years and the organization seemed to be on the way to glory.

“I never imagined it would be the last”, confided, still incredulous, the one who is considered to date as the best player in the history of the organization.

Dave Keon and Guy Lafleur were named to the list of the 100 greatest players in NHL history in 2017. JOHN MAJOR/AGENCY QMI

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A long quarrel

Today, the 83-year-old has returned to the Leafs family. For decades he refused any association with the organization due to a dispute with controversial owner Harold Ballard. Even after the latter's death in 1990, the relationship with the Leafs was cold for a long time, but today he only wishes them well.

“When Ballard became the owner (in 1972 ), he set the franchise back 50 years. They are still trying to reverse the situation. 

“I wish them success. They had opportunities against Montreal when they were leading 3-0 and last year against Tampa. It's hard to say what they're missing. Different things happened to them at different times and the result was never the one expected,” he reflected.

Dave Keon celebrated winning the Cup four times Stanley between 1962 and 1967.

The challenge of the first round

Since their current core is in place, the Leafs have earned their ticket to the playoffs every year since 2017. On nine occasions, they have played in games where they had the opportunity to eliminate their rivals, whether it s whether it's the Lightning (2022), the Canadiens (2021), the Blue Jackers (2020) or the Bruins (2018 and 2019).

“They're playing well, but can't get past the first round. This is the mountain they are unable to climb. If they get there, they have everything to reach the final. 

“I thought they were going to make it last year, but they couldn't find a way to win the sixth and seventh games. This year they look like a better team, hoping they can make it through that first round,” Keon said.

Under Pressure

Some would say that the pressure in Toronto suffocates the players, no matter how talented. Don't go giving Dave Keon that excuse.

“Toronto has always been a market where you play under pressure. Now there are even more media and there are also social networks. The fact remains that there was pressure in our time too. People expected us to win the Cup and when we didn't, someone had to pay the price,” he noted.