Teeder Kennedy is the first of three Maple Leaf greats who will be honored with a statue on 'Legend's Row' just outside Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Any guess who the next two will be when it's announced Sept. 6.
The likeness of Teeder Kennedy will be the first Toronto Maple Leafs legend coming off the granite bench, but who’s next?
Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced the touchstone team monument project 'Legend's Row' this week saying two other players will have their likenesses join Kennedy this season and up to 10 or 11 total by the time the NHL team celebrates its 100th anniversary in 2017. The statues will be on or coming off a 30-foot granite player bench just outside the Air Canada Centre.
If the Maple Leafs were going to select and announce statues of the honored Maple Leafs starting from the head of the class, it would unfold in an order close to how THN’s The Top 100 Players of All-Time established it in 1997. An esteemed panel of 50 hockey historians and experts determined that order. Here is where players most associated with the Maple Leafs ranked on that list.
1. Frank Mahovlich, 1957-74 playing career. The top Maple Leaf was just 26th on the all-time list. He spent three years with Detroit and another three with Montreal, which might explain why he wasn’t the first player named for 'Legend's Row'.
2. Syl Apps, 1936-48. Ranked 33rd on the all-time list, he spent his entire career with the Maple Leafs, winning three Cups.
3. Charlie Conacher, 1929-41. The ‘Big Bomber’ ranked 36th all-time. He won the Art Ross Trophy twice and was a five-time all-star.
4. Tim Horton, 1952-74. Rugged rearguard ranked No. 43 all-time. He won four Cups and was a six-time all-star.
5. King Clancy, 1921-37. Ranked No. 52 all-time, athletic defenseman started career as an Ottawa Senator, then became a lifelong Maple Leaf.
6. Harvey Jackson, 1929-44. ‘Busher’ ranked No. 55 and played on ‘Kid Line’ with Conacher and Joe Primeau.
7. Ted Kennedy, 1942-57. ‘Teeder’ ranked 57th all-time and won the Hart Trophy and five Cups.
8. Turk Broda, 1936-52. Stocky goaltender ranked 60th all-time and also won five Cups.
9. Dave Keon, 1960-82. Two-way center ranked No. 69 all-time and won three different trophies and four Cups.
10. Borje Salming, 1973-90. Swedish defenseman ranked 74th all-time and was a six-time all-star.
11. Babe Dye, 1919-31. Small, gifted goal-scorer ranked No. 83 all-time and had career cut short by badly broken leg.
12. Lorne Chabot, 1926-37. Unheralded stopper not in Hall of Fame, but ranked No. 84 on all-time list.
13. Johnny Bower, 1953-70. Goalie didn’t make NHL until age 33. Won two Vezinas and four Cups. Ranked No. 87 all-time.
14. Joe Primeau, 1928-36. Smooth-passing center ranked No. 92 all-time.
15. Darryl Sittler, 1970-85. Author of record 10-point night ranked 93rd all-time.
16. Babe Pratt, 1935-47. Hart Trophy winner with the Leafs, he ranked No. 96 all-time.
Notable Maple Leafs who didn’t make the authoritative top-100 list include Bob Baun, George Armstrong and Bill Barilko. Red Kelly made the list at No. 22, but he spent most of his career with the Detroit Red Wings.
Also not on the top 100 list are Doug Gilmour and Mats Sundin, who were still active when the ranking was put together in 1997. Gilmour spent just 393 of his 1,474 regular season games with Toronto. Both are in the Hall of Fame.
Other fan favorites such as Wendel Clark, Lanny McDonald, Tiger Williams and Curtis Joseph should also be considered for the statue treatment.
What order will they be unveiled?
If the Maple Leafs are announcing three per year for at least the next few seasons – then maybe one per season thereafter for the next decade or two – my guess is they’ll pick one Leaf legend from each era.
So if Kennedy is old era, maybe either Keon or Bower get to grab a piece of the granite during the September announcement. The third honoree for this year might be a modern Leaf legend, perhaps Sittler, Clark or Gilmour.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN