In a nice bit of symbolism, the Hockey Hall of Fame is about to get a chunk of concrete connected with the late Harold Ballard, one of the worst owners in the history of professional sport.
Ryerson University and Loblaw Companies Ltd., which have teamed up to turn Maple Leaf Gardens into a school rink and grocery store, or something like that, dug up a chunk of concrete earlier this year. Next Tuesday, they plan to present it to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Presumably, the Hall of Fame agreed to accept it. I mean they did put out a press release and all.
The reason some might think this chunk of concrete is special is that it has the hand and footprints of Ballard, who turned the Leafs into a punch line during the years he owned the team by himself, from the early 1970s to his death in 1990. A new ice pad was poured for the Gardens in 1983 and Ballard stepped on a wet slab that was placed at centre ice.
Okay, stop with the jokes that the Leafs would have been better off if Ballard had been buried with the slab. But you can't help thinking a big chunk of concrete is a fitting reminder of the man who was a millstone around the necks of the franchise and its fans for so many years.