Celebration of the ’63 Leafs

photo courtesy thestar.com

by Rob G

So, you might not be aware, but TSM is away this week, and he has given me the keys to the car! Kidding, not about the former, but rather the latter.

In any event, I’ve wanted to offer more content in addition to the afternoon lineups I’ve posted the past few years as well as the odd post I’ve dropped along the way. Being on the road for much of the work day, I listen to a lot of sports radio, and thought why not share some of what has caught my interest during the day. I see this being a daily post (most of the time), and it could be a post of numerous bullet points, or it could be a post involving a single item, such as today.

The celebration of the 1963 Leafs at the ACC Saturday was given special attention, especially on Tim and Sid today on the FAN 590. They gave it the full treatment through the first half of their show. If you listen to Tim and Sid on a regular basis, you know they give the ACC “game ops” their full attention, and today was no exception. They weren’t exactly positive regarding the event, particularly in the lacklustre reception by the crowd. At least those that were in their seats. Dave Feschuk in the Star wrote an excellent column on the celebration in the Sunday Star, highlighting much of the same negativity on how it played out.

Which brings me to my take. From the moment the cars started slowly working their way on the ice with the members of the ’63 team, I had a bad feeling about it from a subliminal perspective, particularly when you see the cars locking their brakes as they work their way around the arena. There was little buzz in the crowd as the stars of yesteryear were wheeled around the ACC. Even the reclusive Leaf great Dave Keon made an appearance, and it registered barely a ripple amongst the crowd. As a comparable, Dave Keon is to the Leafs what Henri Richard was to the Habs. Both great centre ice men, highly important to their respective teams in the 60’s. Think of the reception Richard has received in Montreal over the years. Keon, having ostracized himself from the franchise hasn’t helped, but what a great opportunity the fans had to give thanks to the great years he gave the team – lost.

The problem, as I see it, is the great teams in the Leaf’s history occurred so long ago that there is no emotional connection between the team and the crowd. Would it be more helpful if more of the platinum seat members were seated instead of in the boxes underneath the seats for the celebration? Perhaps, but unless MLSE is prepared to shut down the concessions early (fat chance) to ensure the seats are full, it’s a moot point. Talk amongst yourselves about my burying the lead, but I digress…

As I see it, many of the celebrations of teams and players over the years at the ACC have rarely struck a high note. Is that an issue for game ops, as Tim and Sid might insinuate? To a degree. However, the bigger problem is it’s been so damn long since there’s been anything to celebrate, it gets tiring bringing light to the same thing over and over again.

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mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
February 20, 2013 3:49 pm

the bigger problem is it’s been so damn long since there’s been anything to celebrate, it gets tiring bringing light to the same thing over and over again.

this sounds right to me. during the Blue Jays “Flashback Friday!” era a few years ago i remember reading how some players grumbled about it and talked about “Time to Move On Tuesdays!” or something similar. When you have nothing current to celebrate then i guess the only option is to relive the past.

I believe Tony Soprano said it best: “remember when” is the lowest form of conversation.


February 20, 2013 7:14 pm

Always love any reference to one of the top 5 shows in the history of TV. As far as the Leafs and their celebrations go, ya got it right, who gives a shit about something that happened that long ago.

February 21, 2013 7:54 am

There’s another side to the Keon story. Rob, you write that his appearance in Toronto was a chance for fans to laud him for what he did in the 1960s. This is a guy who ostracized himself from the team, and its fans, for decades because of his animosity towards its long dead owner. Give me a break. Criticizing fans for not worshiping him the same way Henri Richard is in Montreal? Apples and oranges. Richard has been a mainstay in that community. Not so with Keon.

February 21, 2013 8:19 am

Fair comment David. Given the contrived nature of these celebrations at the ACC, I was hopeful that a sincere ovation might come with the Keon appearance, as opposed to the typical reaction we hear. Truth is it’s been so damn long since success, the spirit in the building is sapped, and there is simply no connection to this great group of players.

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