Leafs legend Dave Keon, Olympic great Alex Despatie headline Canada's Sports Hall of Fame newcomers

CBC
Leafs legend Dave Keon, Olympic great Alex Despatie headline Canada's Sports Hall of Fame newcomers

Leafs legend Dave Keon, Olympic great Alex Despatie headline Canada's Sports Hall of Fame newcomers

Leafs legend Dave Keon, Olympic great Alex Despatie headline Canada's Sports Hall of Fame newcomers

A Hockey Hall of Famer, a four-time Grey Cup champion, a two-time Olympic silver medallist and a six-time Paralympian are among this year's class of eight inductees to Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Leading the way is Dave Keon, who had a knack for scoring big goals at big moments and won four Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1960s.

The announcement was made Thursday.

"I thought I knew the game, but … not compared to him," former Keon teammate Jim McKenny said in Dave Bidini's 2013 memoir Keon and Me: My Search for the Lost Soul of the Leafs. "He was just so smart, so intense, and so committed."

Former diving standout Alex Despatie, three-time Olympic cross-country skier Chandra Crawford, CFL great Damon Allen, baseball's Mary Baker and wheelchair athlete Jeff Adams were also recognized.

Alberta Indigenous leader Willie Littlefield and Dr. Sandra Kirby will be inducted in the builders' category.

The class of 2018

Dave Keon

An excellent two-way centre, the Maple Leafs great won three straight Stanley Cups in Toronto from 1962-64 and four overall in 15 seasons with the NHL team. But Keon left the Leafs in 1975 after being publicly criticized by team owner Harold Ballard, moving to the rival World Hockey Association. He spent eight years in the WHA and returned to the NHL for three more seasons as a Hartford Whaler when the two leagues merged in 1979.

In total, Keon scored 396 goals and 986 points in 1,296 regular-season games over 18 NHL seasons. He retired in 1982 at the age of 42 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame four years later. His rift with the Maple Leafs lasted for years, and was only reconciled in 2016 when the Leafs retired his No. 14.

Alex Despatie

Despatie made diving headlines at age 13 when he won gold in the 10-metre platform at the 1998 Commonwealth Games. It didn't end there for the Laval, Que., native, who captured silver in the individual 3m springboard at the 2004 and 2008 Olympics.

Despatie is also the only diver ever to win gold in each of the 1m, 3m and 10m competitions at the world championships. The athlete-turned CBC Sports analyst also won three gold and three silver at worlds, along with nine Commonwealth titles and three gold and three bronze at the Pan Am Games.

Chandra Crawford

The native of Canmore, Alta., burst on the Olympic cross-country ski scene as a 22-year-old rookie in 2006 and won the women's sprint in Turin, Italy, capping her achievement with a memorable air guitar routine atop the podium.

In her career she also won seven World Cup medals, including two gold, but struggled after surgery in 2009 on both legs for compartment syndrome in her shins. She finished 26th at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 and 44th four years later in Sochi before retiring following those Games at age 30. 

Damon Allen

A two-sport star at Cal State Fullerton, the 1994 Detroit Tigers draft pick signed with the CFL's Edmonton Eskimos the following year to begin a football career that would see Allen play 23 seasons, win four Grey Cups and rack up a league-record 72,381 passing yards.

The San Diego-born Allen played for six CFL teams and set several records, including most rushing yards by a quarterback (11,914) and regular-season marks for passing touchdowns (394) and completions (5,158). Allen's most productive season was 2005 with Toronto when he completed 352 of 549 passes for a career-best 5,082 yards and 33 touchdowns.

Mary "Bonnie" Baker

Regina's Baker was an Army and Navy store employee by day and baseball player at night. She was lured by the All-American Girls Professional League in 1943, becoming a three-time all-star catcher in Michigan and gracing the cover of Life Magazine in 1945.

She played for several years, appearing in 930 regular-season games, and in 1950 became the only woman to ever hold dual roles as player/manager. Baker, who died in 2003, won a batting title at the World Ladies Softball Championship in Toronto and was an inspiration for Geena Davis's character in the 1992 movie, A League of Their Own.

Jeff Adams

The six-time world champion in wheelchair sports has been a competitive athlete, motivational speaker and role model over the past 20 years. Adams, 47, competed in six consecutive Paralympics from 1988 to 2008, winning two silver medals at the 1992 Barcelona Games, gold in 1996 at Atlanta and two more gold in 2000 in Australia.

Willie Littlechild

An accomplished lawyer, respected politician and standout athlete throughout his career, the prominent Alberta Indigenous leader hopes to one day see an Indigenous team at the Olympics. Littlechild spent 14 years in the residential school system, but sports served as his escape and paved his way to the University of Alberta where he played on the hockey and swim teams and earned a bachelor's degree in physical education. Littlechild also started the first all-Indian junior hockey team in Alberta.

Dr. Sandra Kirby

Much of the accomplished scholar and former Olympic rower's career has been spent trying to eliminate sexual harassment and abuse, homophobia and violence against children in sport. In 2009, Kirby was part of an academic team that developed an online education program aimed at ending sexual harassment and abuse of children and teenagers in Olympic sports. The sociologist and one-time physical education teacher in British Columbia joined a Canadian crew at the 1976 Montreal Olympics that placed ninth in the coxed quadruple sculls.

What to Read Next