Keon a pleasant surprise

Dave Keon has a laugh at one of Pat Quinn's stories yesterday, but the former Leafs captain says...

Dave Keon has a laugh at one of Pat Quinn's stories yesterday, but the former Leafs captain says his three-decade long estrangement from the club will continue. (Toronto Sun/Craig Robertson)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:39 AM ET

Dave Keon was back in the Maple Leafs dressing room yesterday.

Okay, so it was only a replica of Toronto's former digs at Maple Leaf Gardens, part of the set used for the portrait involving eight of the nine living captains to have worn the C on their blue-and-white jerseys.

But for a guy whose frosty relationship with the Toronto organization has endured almost three decades dating back to the Harold Ballard era, the mere fact that he flew up from his Florida home to attend the event was a pleasant surprise for many.

"Dave really wanted to be part of our (captain's) fraternity," Doug Gilmour said.

In accepting the offer to be part of the event, Keon insisted he be paid no more than the fees being handed out to the other participating players.

"That's how much he wanted to join us," Gilmour said.

Just don't expect Keon to be hanging around the real Leafs dressing room in the near future. The regimes running the Leafs have long since changed since Pal Hal was running the franchise into the ground from his bunker, but Keon's stance has not altered.

"Nothing has changed since the day I left 30 years ago," Keon said, referring to the grudge that has caused him to refuse numerous attempts by his former club to honour him. "It's just something that happened."

RARE INTERVIEW

In granting a rare interview with a member of the Toronto media, Keon pointed out to The Toronto Sun that yesterday's proceedings were not in conjunction with the Leaf organization.

Asked to look back on his 15 years with the Leafs, Keon shrugged.

"There was some good, some bad," he said. "It probably is a wash."

Yet he continues to keep his distance from the Leafs organization.

"There have been inquiries if I would be interested," he said. "But I can't live up to other people's expectations. I just live up to mine - at least I try to."

An upbeat Keon did spend several minutes talking with Leafs general manager John Ferguson, who joined coach Pat Quinn and assistants Rick Ley and Keith Acton for a quick informal visit prior to the shoot.

"Our door is always open for him to be part of the Maple Leafs alumni and the Maple Leaf family," Ferguson said.

Painted in some circles as being a sour individual since leaving Toronto, Keon was jovial throughout the day.

"I just liked the way this thing was put together," Keon said in explaining why he accepted.

"It's an honour (to captain the Leafs)."

Keon spent much of the afternoon conversing with Ted Kennedy.

"He's a friend," Keon said. "We were members at the same golf course. I haven't seen him in (at least a decade)."

Toronto fans haven't seen much of Keon in that time, either.


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