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Dave Keon enjoys Toronto Maple Leafs Cup anniversary celebration

The Canadian Press
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The Hockey News
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Dave Keon enjoys Toronto Maple Leafs Cup anniversary celebration

The Canadian Press
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"I was very appreciative of the people - they've always been very good to me," said Keon, who received a minute-long standing ovation when he was introduced at Air Canada Centre. "I was very happy I was able to be a part of it.

"(Leafs GM) John Ferguson did a great job of getting (the team) hereatoday was a very good experience."

However, Keon cautioned against reading too much into his return to Toronto, brushing aside rumours he would play a bigger role with the team.

"This is one night, one weekend," Keon said. "Let's just leave it at that."

For the better part of three decades, Keon had been at odds with the Maple Leafs organization over a variety of issues, including the team's reluctance to retire jersey numbers. But his position softened in recent months, and he took advantage of the chance to be welcomed back alongside the team he last won a Stanley Cup

with.

His former teammates were happy he did.

"I'm happy for Dave," said Bob Pulford. "Seeing him come back and get the recognition he deserved is a wonderful thing.

"It's nice that he's dropped the resentment, or whatever he felt toward the organization," added Pete Stemkowski, a Maple Leafs centre from 1965-68. "I've always joked with him that all the people he was fighting with are dead, so let's get back (to Toronto) and get on with it.

"Now he's back, and he doesn't want to be the centre of attention. He's happy to be one of the boys, and it's good to see him back."

The rest of the former Maple Leafs applauded the festivities.

"I've been to a few ceremonies, and this one ranks right up there." said 82-year-old goalie Johnny Bower. "The crowd was great, and all of us appreciate the gesture.

"I never thought anything like this would ever happen," Stemkowski said. "Coming back brings back great memories, ones that I and the other guys on that team are very proud of."

The Cup was not brought out for the ceremony, which was interesting as the trophy was at the Saddledome in Calgary for Mike Vernon's jersey retirement ceremony.

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Dave Keon enjoys Toronto Maple Leafs Cup anniversary celebration