Getting History Right
Good for Dave Keon and the Maple Leafs.
If burying the hatchet is what Keon wants to do after several decades of being irked and disappointed with the franchise he once called home, well, that's probably good for both sides in this long simmering hockey feud.
Hopefully, however, Keon's return on Feb. 17 won't overshadow everything.
More specifically, this is a chance for the Maple Leafs not only to properly celebrate a 40-year-old achievement - winning the 1967 Stanley Cup - that has not been achieved since, but it's a chance to tell the story right this time around.
Leaf history, after all, is shrouded in myth and story-telling, and the '67 victory is no different.
Yes, Keon won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP, and yes Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk combined to keep body and soul together long enough to supply the requisite goaltending to get the job done.
But the real heroes of '67 have been ignored for far too long, and hopefully MLSE will, unlike the botched closing of Maple Leaf Gardens, not only do a better job with this celebration but will ensure history is set straight.
Jim Pappin led the NHL in playoff scoring that surprising spring and has almost never been fully recognized for his work.
Pete Stemkowski centred a line with Pappin and Bob Pulford and delivered the best play of any Leaf centre that spring, arguably the best play of his entire career.
Finally, Larry Hillman was a kingpin on defence, better than Bobby Baun or Allan Stanley for those playoff victories over Chicago and Montreal.
All three - Pappin, Stemkowski and Hillman - were subsequently dumped by the franchise or treated harshly with their contracts. Pappin was traded for an over-the-hill Pierre Pilote. Stemkowski was a throw-in on the disastrous Frank Mahovlich deal. Hillman was lost in the mix, went to Minnesota briefly and then helped the Canadiens win the '69 Cup.
Hillman was so ticked he placed the "Hillman Hex" on the Leafs, a curse he would tell you is still in effect today.
Maybe the Leafs should be more worried about making things right with Hillman than Keon if they ever hope of winning another Stanley Cup.