Dave Keon – His Magical 1979-80 NHL Season Was One for the Ages

By the point Dave Keon returned to the NHL for a curtain name with the Hartford Whalers, he was 39 years previous. Even at 39, he was nonetheless solely the third-oldest participant on the staff behind fellow legends Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull. Because the 1979-80 season progressed, Keon would flip 40 whereas Howe and Hull turned 52 and 41, respectively. Whereas this may be Howe’s and Hull’s final season within the NHL, Keon would nonetheless play for 2 extra after that. However it was the 1979-80 season that noticed Keon compile a 12 months that will be one for the ages.

Dave Keon – Earlier Success within the NHL

Keon cast a profession that earned him a spot in the Hockey Corridor of Fame in 1986. What’s vital to understand is the principle accolades that led to his induction passed off throughout his major time taking part in within the NHL. Keon performed for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1960-61 up by means of the 1974-75 season.

Dave Keon (14), proven right here as he checks Montreal’s Bobby Rousseau, performed 15 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. (THW Archives)

Inside these years, he would win the Calder Trophy because the league’s rookie of the 12 months, 4 Stanley Cups for the Leafs, the 1967 Conn Smythe Trophy, and two Girl Byng Trophies. Keon additionally grew to become extensively thought-about the premier penalty-killer in hockey throughout that point. He led the NHL in shorthanded targets in 1968-69 (six) and 1970-71 (eight).

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The three years that Keon performed for Hartford can be icing on the cake. However, that definitely doesn’t diminish the significance of what he completed throughout a time when the overwhelming majority of gamers his age would have lengthy been retired.

Dace Keon’s Transition From the WHA Again to the NHL

From 1975 till 1979, Keon performed within the World Hockey Affiliation. He was a member of the Minnesota Combating Saints, Indianapolis Racers, and the New England Whalers. New England was the precursor to what can be Hartford when a WHA/NHL merger passed off in 1979.

Throughout his 4 seasons within the WHA, Keon nonetheless had success even in his golden years of play. He obtained the Paul Deneau Trophy in 1977 and 1978 in recognition of his gentlemanly play. Whereas New England would lose within the 1978 Avco Cup closing to the Jets, Keon can be second on the Whalers in playoff scoring. He posted 5 targets and 11 assists in 14 playoff video games. He would finish his WHA profession with 291 factors in 301 common season video games.

In June of 1979, the NHL held an growth draft for the 4 groups getting into the league from the WHA—the Whalers, the Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets, and the Edmonton Oilers. The Whalers had been capable of retain Keon’s rights on June ninth, previous to the growth draft going down on June thirteenth.

Keon’s Return the NHL With the Whalers

The 1979-80 Hartford Whalers had been a colourful staff, to say the least. They’d the aforementioned golden oldies in Keon, Howe, and Hull. Each of “Mr. Hockey’s” sons, Mark and Marty Howe, had been on the staff. The Whalers had firepower too within the likes of Blaine Stoughton (tied for league lead with 56 targets) and Mike Rogers (team-leading 61 assists and 105 factors). The pugilistic Nick Fotiu supplied muscle, whereas anchoring the squad had been journeymen goaltenders Al Smith and John Garrett.

Although Hull solely performed 12 video games between common season and playoffs mixed, Hartford was capable of assemble moments of “The Golden Jet” on the left, Keon at middle, and Howe on the starboard facet. The efficiency of the Whalers was ok for a third-place end within the Norris Division. They compiled a document of 27-34-19 and would have an opening-round playoff matchup in opposition to the Montreal Canadiens. At 40-years-old, Keon performed within the closing NHL playoff appearances of his profession and picked up a lone help in three video games. The Canadiens would sweep the Whalers in three straight video games.

Understanding the Worth of Keon’s 1979-80 Season

Regardless of his age, the 1979-80 season was one of many best performances of Keon’s illustrious profession. Between the NHL and WHA, he performed skilled hockey for 22 seasons. The 52 assists that Keon generated for the Whalers in 1979-80 had been his highest help whole of any of his 18 NHL seasons. They had been the second-highest of his 22 professional seasons, outdone solely by the 63 he generated in 1976-77 WHA season, cut up between the Combating Saints and New England.

Two of his 52 assists got here whereas partaking in his forte of taking part in shorthanded. Eight of them happened on the Whalers energy play. Those self same 52 assists had been tied for 18th-highest in the complete league, alongside Rick Middleton and Borje Salming. Including 10 targets on the 12 months, Keon completed fourth total in Whalers staff scoring in 1979-80. Solely Rogers, Stoughton and Mark Howe registered extra factors.

Right here’s a have a look at a few of Keon’s extra memorable video games from the 1979-80 NHL season:

Dave Keon
Canadian hockey participant Dave Keon, quantity 14, of the Hartford Whalers skates on the ice throughout a recreation on the Hartford Civic Area, Hartford, Connecticut, April 1981. (Picture by Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Photographs)

Oct. 13, 1979: The Hartford Whalers play to a 3-3 tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Keon picked up a secondary help off of 6’5″ Whalers’ behemoth Invoice Bennett’s game-tying objective at 14:09 of the third interval. This could be Keon’s first level in his return to the NHL.

Oct. 31, 1979: On Halloween, Keon scored his first objective with the Hartford Whalers. Lo and behold, it got here in opposition to his former Toronto Maple Leafs. As if it had been scripted, Keon would additionally choose up an help on the evening on Stoughton’s fourth of the season. Hartford would skate away with a 4-2 win on Maple Leaf Gardens ice.

Nov. 11, 1979: Each Keon and Gordie Howe every scored two targets apiece because the Whalers performed to a 5-5 tie with the Chicago Blackhawks. Certainly not was this a straightforward accomplishment because the 39-year-old and the 51-year-old did so in opposition to Chicago’s Corridor of Fame goaltender Tony Esposito.

Dec. 15, 1979: In a 6-5 loss to the lowly Colorado Rockies, Keon assisted on three of the Whalers’ 5 targets. All three of his assists got here within the second interval and had been every major assists. The targets went to Mark Howe adopted by two from Stoughton.

Jan. 2, 1980: Keon out-duels Wayne Gretzky in a 3-3 tie between the Whalers and Oilers in Edmonton. Keon picks up a objective and an help on the evening in opposition to Jim Corsi in web for the Oilers. Gretzky is saved to a lone help on the evening.

Feb. 3, 1980: Hartford’s Jordy Douglas scores 4 targets in a 5-3 victory over the eventual Stanley Cup champion New York Islanders. The sport is performed in Hartford, and Keon picks up two assists off of a pair of Douglas’ targets.

Feb. 18, 1980: Keon is terrific in a 6-4 victory over the New York Rangers on the Civic Heart. He arrange the Whalers first objective of the sport on a tally by Ray Allison, after which scored the second objective himself. Keon would finally arrange the game-winning marker by Douglas within the third interval, too.

Mar. 12, 1980: In a 4-4 tie with the Detroit Purple Wings, Keon notched his tenth and closing objective of the season. Douglas and Gordie Howe picked up the assists on the marker. Bobby Hull additionally picked up a objective and an help on the evening, in what can be “Mr. Hockey’s” closing NHL recreation performed in Detroit.

Mar. 19, 1980: The Whalers and the Montreal Canadiens performed to a 5-5 tie in Hartford. Keon once more places collectively a three-assist evening. His first two assists got here on Douglas’ twenty eighth and twenty ninth targets of the season. 46 seconds after he assisted on Douglas’ second of the evening, Keon arrange Mark Howe’s twenty second objective.

Wrapping up Keon’s Time With Hartford

Keon’s closing two seasons with the Whalers had been the 1980-81 and 1981-82 seasons. His level manufacturing dipped throughout every of these years to 47 and 19 factors respectively. Nonetheless, he definitely was not washed up by any stretch of the creativeness.

Within the 1980-81 marketing campaign, Keon elevated his objective whole from 10 to 13. He additionally performed in all 80 Whalers video games that 12 months. Likewise, he would end sixteenth within the league in voting for an additional Girl Byng Trophy. The oddity to that, in fact, being that Keon’s 26 penalty minutes in 1980-81 had been his highest quantity in a season for his total profession. In the course of the 1981-82 season, he set profession lows in all offensive classes, whereas turning 42 years previous that March. Regardless, he nonetheless managed to be ninth-overall in voting for the Frank J. Selke Trophy because the league’s finest defensive ahead.

In these final three years of NHL play for Dave Keon, he assembled 31 targets and 97 assists for 128 factors in 234 video games. Actually not dangerous for a participant doing the majority of that manufacturing in his 40s. Suffice it to say that Keon was an integral early star of these early Whalers NHL groups. However his 52 assists within the 1979-80 season are what make his time in Hartford most memorable and one for the ages.

– initially revealed in November 2017