MLSE Blew it, Is Harold Back?

The knock on the Maple Leafs during the Ballard era was that they alienated the older Maple Leafs. Former players, alumnae weren’t treated well if at all by the club. When Harold kicked the bucket, the Maple Leafs made it a priority to improve that. “old timers” were suddenly a part of the scene. Veterans were in a box, guys like Sittler and Wendel were brought on to help grow the alum department. All was apparently back on track. The problem in life is the always the attention to detail, or lack there of. Sometimes it is doing the small things right that makes the biggest difference. Alternatively, missing the details is often way worse than screwing up the big ticket items.

This has been, as LT likes to call it, the “deadliest summer”. No, as I tell LT, no more people have died this summer than any regular summer, just more famous people seemed to die. It seems that almost every facet of the public/entertainment world has been hit by a big name death this summer. Locally, and in the sports world, Toronto has not been untouched. The Maple Leafs lost, perhaps the greatest player to ever play for them last week in Ted “Teeder” Kennedy. He played long before my time, however, everything I have read, and everything I have heard leads me to believe that we may never see the type of player he was for our squad. As someone told me today, when I ask you who read this site on a regular basis who’s jersey I should buy for little TSM, the answer is we should only be so lucky to have half the player Ted “Teeder” Kennedy was.

One would think, that someone, ANYONE representing the Maple Leafs could have driven down the QEW to the funeral. According to the MacLeans magazine, no one did:

“The downtown church was crowded with friends and relatives. His wife of 61 years was there. His son delivered a wonderful, funny tribute. It was more like a conversation with friends than a speech. Those in attendance did not include Richard Peddie, Larry Tannenbaum, Tom Anselmi, or Brian Burke. There were no Leafs suits and no Leafs Alumni Association executives or members at the church’s funeral liturgy.”

If that is true, it is beyond sad, it is truly pathetic. I don’t care if they wear a patch, I don’t care if the have a moment of silence. There is but one funeral, and someone ANYONE should have been there representing the team.

“I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Following the announcement of his death, local newspaper reports provided incorrect statistical information, incorrect bio information, and even misidentified the most famous photo in Leaf history—Ted Kennedy being presented to Princess Elizabeth. They said it was a photo of him “following the Stanley cup win.” In fact, the photo was taken in 1951, following a one-period exhibition at the Gardens in front of a full house, including the Princess and Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh.Only Frank Selke, representing the Selke family and the Special Olympics organization, George Armstrong, Ted’s former teammate and Leafs captain, and the “other” #9, Dick Duff, attended.”

No, Armstrong or Duff don’t count. One member of the current board, or management team could have taken a few hours to make the trip. This guy is what the Toronto Maple Leafs should aspire to be. The current administration blew it and in my mind blew it big.

“In Maple Leaf Legends: 75 Years of Toronto’s Hockey Heroes, author Mike Leonetti claims Ted was the second-best Leaf in history, behind only David Keon. But as good as Keon was, his post-playing days have been marred by drama, grudges, and whining. He says he doesn’t have any good memories of his time as a Leaf and doesn’t want his name associated with the team. In contrast, Ted Kennedy spoke of his former teammates as family, and his face lit up when he reminisced about old games and his time wearing Toronto’s blue and white.”

That, my friends makes it even worse. Unfortunately, the arguments don’t get any easier for MLSE:

“Since “Teeder’s” days as captain, one successor has been a recluse for more than 30 years, another rarely visits Toronto and doesn’t want to be associated with the team, another ripped the C from his jersey before a game at the Gardens. Then there’s the most recent one, who some say left the dressing room without removing his equipment following the last game of the season because he was so anxious to leave Toronto and get back to Sweden. Two years after his retirement in 1955, Kennedy, at the request of the owner, rejoined the club because the team was having trouble winning.”

The guy gave everything he had to this franchise, and in the end, when there is one thing, one place where he can’t do for himself, they were absent.. ABSENT.

“A few years ago, the hockey world mourned the passing of the great Maurice “Rocket” Richard. It was like a state funeral. Fans, former teammates, team and league officials, and government representatives were there. Rocket deserved the wonderful tribute. Stats-wise, Richard’s finest year in hockey was 1955, when he scored 74 points. And yet, Ted Kennedy earned the Hart trophy that year as the league’s best player. “Teeder” and teammate Babe Pratt (1944) are the only Leafs to ever earn the Hart trophy. Had his rights not been traded from Montreal to Toronto when he was 16 and had he played for the Habs, perhaps the Montreal fans would have taken more notice of the passing of this hockey hero and exemplary citizen. He may have even been honoured with a statue outside the Forum beside the Rocket’s.”

I remember watching the funeral on tv and the throngs of people going through the forum to pay their last respects. Clearly, in Montreal they honour their hockey heroes better than we do here. The lesson, starts at the top. A short drive would have made all the difference. All they had to do was show up. It’s too bad. Again, all I have to go on is the excellent report in MacLeans magazine. I hope, really hope it’s not true. I hope, really hope that there is a REALLY good reason that not one member of either management or the board wasn’t there. I hope, really hope.



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