Keon, Carter among Toronto’s most bitter departures

It has been reported this week that Manchester United’ s Wayne Rooney wants out – possibly in favour of cross-town rival Manchester City.

As the star of Man U, his exit would be considered a huge betrayal.

The city of Toronto has also had its share of sporting figures leave under bitter circumstances.

While the soccer world anxiously awaits Rooney’s move, let’s take a look at some of Toronto’s worst departures:


In Leafland, Dave Keon’s exit stands out. He may one of the most highly regarded players in Maple Leafs history, but his departure from the blue-and-white wasn’t very friendly.

Harold Ballard, majority owner of the Leafs, was not a huge fan of Keon and the two had multiple disputes.

Ballard lambasted the captain’s leadership skills more than once, and did not want the star to return to the Leafs following the 1974-75 season.

But instead of allowing Keon to escape the Leafs quietly, Ballard wanted compensation for the forward, and set the bar too high for other NHL teams to sign him. Keon eventually moved to the World Hockey Association to play with the Minnesota Fighting Saints.

For years, the fan favourite would have no contact with the Leafs, angry over his treatment. His one Leafs-sanctioned appearance came in 2007, when the team honoured the players of the 1967 Stanley Cup winning team.


After Keon left, Darryl Sittler took over as captain. Unfortunately, problems with the owner did not end under new leadership.

Ballard brought in Punch Imlach as general manager in 1979, and Sittler did not get along with the new hire.

In an effort to get at No. 27, Imlach traded his best friend on the team, Lanny McDonald. In response, the centre ripped the captain’s “C” off his jersey.

A reconciliation of sorts followed, but everything to a head during the 1981-82 season.

Sittler told the Leafs he would waive his no-trade clause. It ended up taking weeks for anything transpires, and the captain eventually walked out on the team prior to his trade to Philadelphia.


Six years after his departure, the boos still rain down on Vince Carter every time he touches the ball at the Air Canada Centre.

It was after a disappointing 2003-04 season that No. 15 asked Raptors management for a trade.

He wasn’t given his wish until Dec. 17, 2004, when he was sent to the New Jersey Nets.

But in the two months Carter played for Toronto before his request was granted, he posted career lows in scoring and was perceived to have given up on the Raptors – he stopped trying.


The 2010 off-season alone has added two Raptors to the list – Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu.

After a tepid end to the 2009-10 season, where the Raptors failed to make the playoffs following a promising start, everyone in Toronto was prepared for Bosh’s exit.

But the way Bosh chose to go about free agency is what irked Raptors fans. Posting his thoughts on Twitter, including asking whether he should stay or go, it was seen that the all-star disrespected the fans and the franchise.

Turkoglu was a different case. He spent only one year with the team, and after an outstanding season where he led the Orlando Magic to the NBA Finals, he showed little passion or drive with the Raptors.


Cito Gaston may not be a player, and he may have received a hero’s good-bye at the end of the 2010 season, but the Jays’ manager’s first exit from Toronto was not as pretty.

After leading the Blue Jays to the World Series in 1992 and 1993, losing seasons followed. He was fired in 1997.

Though it was a bitter departure, Gaston returned to the Jays in various positions and ultimately managed them again in 2008.

He decided to leave on his terms after this year, retiring from the position.


The Blue Jays signed pitcher A.J. Burnett to a lucrative five-year, $55 million-US deal in 2005, expecting a lot out of their new star acquisition.

Burnett, however, suffered through injuries and never really lived up to his salary. He decided to opt out of his contract after the 2008 season and signed with the New York Yankees.

His decision left the Jays with no tangible compensation and little to show for the signing. The right-hander is continuously booed when he returns to Toronto.


Though Arland Bruce is still thought of positively in Toronto, the star wide receiver’s exit was much more negative.

It was after an argument with head coach Bart Andrus that he was traded from the team to the Hamilton Ti-Cats in 2009. As a result of that dispute, he also was benched for a game in Winnipeg.

The clash began earlier that season when Bruce was fined for an undisclosed amount by the CFL for an excessive touchdown celebration. Toronto supported the fine and took further disciplinary actions against him.

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Posted: Oct 20 2010 8:45 pm
Filed under: Sports