Saturday, August 15, 2009

Teeder Kennedy was almost a Hab

23403 Teeder Kennedy battles Jacques Plante on this 1954-55 Parkhurst hockey card

There was some sad news in the hockey world, yesterday with the passing of Toronto Maple Leafs legend Ted “Teeder” Kennedy at the age of 83.

Canadiens Hall of Fame center Jean Beliveau had this to say on Kennedy’s passing:

"I was certainly happy to play against him and I'm so sorry to hear (of his death)," said Montreal Canadiens legend Jean Beliveau. ``He was a complete centreman, a good playmaker, a good passer, good on faceoffs."

Kennedy played his entire career in Toronto, making his debut at the age of 17, in the 1943-44 season. He recorded 49 points in 49 games that year.

He would lead Toronto to the first of four straight Stanley Cups from 1945 to 1949 and add a fifth after the 1950-51 season.


Kennedy was the Leafs captain from 1948 to 1955

Playing amongst the Golden Age legends, Kennedy won the Hart Trophy during the 1954-55 season.

Kennedy retired after that season, but returned for 30 games, as captain, in 1956-57.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1966.

200px-EIIR-Kennedy Kennedy meets then Duchess of Ediborough Elizabeth in 1951

At one time though, Kennedy was the property of the Montreal Canadiens.

Frank Orr, of The Toronto Star, recounts how Kennedy went from a Canadiens prospect to a Leafs Hall-of-Famer.

Kennedy  attracted the attention of a Montreal Canadiens scout when he was 16.

The Habs moved him to Montreal in 1942 to play for the Royals junior team and practice with the NHL club, paying his tuition at a private school.

"But I just didn't like the situation and I told them I was going home," Kennedy said.

He finished the season with the Port Colborne senior team, coached by the NHL's leading career goal-scorer at the time, Nels (Old Poison) Stewart, a star with the old Montreal Maroons. Stewart told the youngster Leafs coach Hap Day was a master at developing young players.

Frank Selke, the hockey genius who was in charge of the Leafs during Major Smythe's World War II absence, traded young defenceman Frank Eddolls to the Canadiens for the NHL rights to Kennedy.

eddolls_frankFrank Eddols, accquired from Toronto for Ted Kennedy

Smythe was furious Selke had made the trade without consulting him, the start of the split between the two men who had combined their talents to build the Leafs and Maple Leaf Gardens from scratch.

After Smythe sacked him, Selke moved to the Canadiens in 1946 to build the most successful franchise in pro sports.

"It was a prime example of the many contradictions in Conn Smythe," Selke said years later. "Ted Kennedy was justifiably one of Smythe's favourites, but he never gave me credit – or forgave me – for getting Teeder without his permission."

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