TORONTO — To ring in their centennial season the Toronto Maple Leafs retired the numbers of 17 players, finally adding a place most notably for Dave Keon.
The Leafs revealed those honours during a ceremony preceding Saturday's home opener against the Boston Bruins. Brand new banners were raised for each of the newly retired numbers as well of those of Bill Barilko and Ace Bailey, the only two players to previously have their numbers retired by the team.
Toronto had formerly been against retiring numbers, opting instead to honour the numbers of past greats. Only those who suffered a tragedy while members of the team previously had been retired, Barilko passing away in a plane crash, Bailey suffering a career-ending injury on the ice.
"Tonight, our philosophy has changed," the team announced in the pre-game ceremony.
Those retired sweater numbers would never be worn again.
It was the latest offering of respect to the past under team president Brendan Shanahan, who has made it a priority since he was hired in 2014 to better celebrate successful eras in the team's past. Shanahan spearheaded an overhaul of the team's sweater and logo earlier this year, opting for a classic style that harkened back to the Cup winners in the 1940's and 1960's.
New banners celebrating each of the team's 13 Stanley Cups were also put on display.
Keon, a four-time Cup-winner with the Leafs, wanted no part of the organization for decades in part because of past unwillingness to retire his No. 14 sweater. Relations between the two sides have thawed in recent years, leading to his name being raised to the rafters at Air Canada Centre for the first time.
He was also voted No. 1 in a list of the 100 greatest players in team history on Friday.
The honoured players and/or their representatives took to the ice in a circle around centre-ice, clad in matching navy blazers. Turk Broda, who won five Cups as a goaltender for the Leafs, teared up when his name was announced.
Included in the new Cup banners were more accurate depictions of each version of the trophy, from the shorter version in 1918 to the tall, lean model in the 1940's and finally to the more current look of today from the victorious teams of the 1960's.
Earlier this week the Leafs also revealed new statutes on their Legends Row exhibit for Keon, Turk Broda, and Tim Horton.
James van Riemsdyk was the only current Leaf forced to change his number as a result of Saturday's changes, switching from No. 21 (now retired for Borje Salming) to No. 25.