TORONTO – Doug Gilmour finally got another chance to soak in the love from fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The former Leafs captain appeared to be choked up even before addressing the crowd or seeing his No. 93 banner raised to the Air Canada Centre rafters on Saturday night. The fans responded with chants of “Dougie! Dougie!” as Gilmour composed himself.
When he finally spoke, he thanked the supporters who adored him during roughly six seasons with the Leafs.
“You guys cheered us each and every night,” said Gilmour. “You inspired our hockey club and made us that much better, so keep cheering. I love you guys in Toronto.”
Gilmour was a central part of the Leafs teams that made back-to-back appearances in the conference final during the 1990s. He set a franchise record with 127 points during the 1992-93 season before eclipsing the playoff mark with 35 more that spring.
The 45-year-old was traded from the Leafs during the 1996-97 season and went on to play for New Jersey, Chicago, Buffalo and Montreal.
Toronto re-acquired him at the trade deadline in 2003 but he only dressed for one game, suffering a career-ending knee injury in Calgary.
Among the people Gilmour thanked during his brief speech on Saturday was former coach Pat Burns and GM Cliff Fletcher, who pulled off the trade that first brought him to Toronto. He also paid tribute to his parents and four children – all of whom were on hand at centre ice for the ceremony
Gilmour is the 17th player to be honoured by the organization. Only two numbers – Bill Barilko’s No. 5 and Ace Bailey’s No. 6 – are officially retired and therefore unavailable to current members of the team.
There hasn’t been a Leafs player since Gilmour to wear No. 93.
He took a front office job with the team after his playing career ended and currently coaches the Ontario Hockey League’s Kingston Frontenacs.