Red Kelly

Leonard Patrick "Red" Kelly CM (July 9, 1927 – May 2, 2019) was a Canadian professional ice hockey player and coach. He was also a Liberal Member of Parliament for the Toronto-area riding of York West from 1962 to 1965, during which time he also won the Stanley Cup—twice—while actively playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kelly played on more Stanley Cup-winning teams (eight) than any other player who never played for the Montreal Canadiens; Henri Richard (11), Jean Beliveau (10), Yvan Cournoyer (10) and Claude Provost (9) won their Cups with the Canadiens. He was also the only player to have never played for the Canadiens to be part of two of the nine dynasties recognized by the National Hockey League (NHL) in its history.[1]

Red Kelly
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1969
Red Kelly with the Toronto Maple Leafs
Born (1927-07-09)July 9, 1927
Simcoe, Ontario, Canada
Died May 2, 2019(2019-05-02) (aged 91)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 195 lb (88 kg; 13 st 13 lb)
Position Defence (1947–1960)
Centre (1960–1967)
Shot Left
Played for Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Playing career 19471967

In 2017, Kelly was named one of the '100 Greatest NHL Players' in history.[2]

Early career

Kelly attended Doan's Hollow Public School in Port Dover, then attended St. Michael's College School.[3] [4] He grew up listening to Foster Hewitt's broadcasts of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and was particularly inspired by the style of their hard-charging defenceman, Red Horner. However, while playing junior hockey for the St. Michael's Majors, he was encouraged to refine his style by his coach, former Leaf great Joe Primeau.[5]

NHL career

The Maple Leafs passed on Kelly after a scout predicted he would not last 20 games in the NHL (despite the Majors' long relationship with the Leafs) and the 19-year-old joined the Detroit Red Wings in 1947. In 1954 he was runner-up for the Hart Memorial Trophy and won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the NHL's top defenceman, the first time the trophy was awarded and also won the Lady Byng Trophy in 1951, 1953 and 1954 as the NHL's most gentlemanly player. In over 12 years as a Red Wing the team won eight regular-season championships and four Stanley Cups. He was chosen as a First Team All-Star defenceman six times.

However, midway through the next season, a reporter asked Kelly why he'd been off his game for much of 1959. Kelly replied, "Don't know. Might have been the ankle." When Red Wings general manager Jack Adams got wind of the story, he was furious, and immediately brokered a four-player deal in which Kelly was sent to the New York Rangers. However, Kelly scuttled the deal when he announced he would retire rather than go to New York.[5]

Maple Leafs head coach Punch Imlach stepped in and tried to talk Kelly into playing for him. Though he disliked Maple Leaf Gardens and was still smarting from the scout's assessment of him 13 years earlier, Kelly agreed to be traded to the Leafs. Once Kelly arrived in Toronto, Imlach asked him to switch positions and become a full-time centre, figuring that Kelly could easily match up against the Montreal Canadiens' Jean Béliveau. The switch paid off. Already a great playmaker, Kelly turned Frank Mahovlich into one of the most lethal goal scorers in NHL history.[5][6]

Kelly won his fourth Lady Byng Award in 1961. In his eight seasons with the Leafs, they won four Stanley Cups–the same number of times he'd won in Detroit. In 1,316 regular season games, he scored 281 goals and 542 assists for 823 points. At the time of his retirement, he was seventh all time in career points, fifth in assists, 13th in goals, and second only to Gordie Howe in games played. In 164 playoff games, he scored 33 goals and 59 assists for 92 points.

Coaching career

After the Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1967, Kelly announced his retirement as a player, and negotiated with the expansion Los Angeles Kings to be their inaugural coach on the strength of Imlach's assertion that Toronto would not stand in the way of Kelly's coaching career. Imlach insisted, however, that Los Angeles draft Kelly in the expansion draft,[7] and after the Kings failed to do so, refused to release Kelly's rights until Los Angeles traded minor-league defenceman Ken Block to the Leafs.[8][9] Kelly guided the Kings to second place in the West Division and made the playoffs two years in a row.

He left the Kings for a one-year contract to succeed Red Sullivan as coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 2, 1969.[10] After the Penguins ended the 1969–70 season with its first-ever playoff appearance and advanced to the semifinals, Kelly signed a five-year, $250,000 contract on May 21, 1970 to continue as coach, and also replaced Jack Riley as general manager.[11][12] With the team struggling in sixth place in the NHL West Division during a stretch of winning only two of 22 contests and having failed to qualify for the postseason in 1970–71, Kelly was pressured to relinquish his general manager title back to Riley on January 29, 1972 in order to concentrate on his coaching duties.[13] Amid a slump in which the Penguins won only two games with three draws and seven losses and slid into fifth place in the eight-team NHL West Division, Kelly was fired and replaced by Ken Schinkel on January 13, 1973.[14]

Kelly returned to the Maple Leafs after signing a four-year contract to succeed John McLellan as coach on August 20, 1973.[15] He stayed in the position from the 1973–74 season to 1976–77. The team earned a playoff berth in all four seasons with Kelly as head coach but got eliminated in the quarterfinals each time. A bizarre aspect of his tenure as Maple Leafs coach occurred during the 1975–76 quarterfinal series when he promoted pyramid power amongst his players to counter the Philadelphia Flyers' use of Kate Smith's rendition of "God Bless America." He hung a plastic model of a pyramid in the team's clubhouse after a pair of away defeats to start the series. The players embraced the superstition after observing team captain Darryl Sittler first place his hockey sticks beneath the pyramid and then stand under it for exactly four minutes. The Maple Leafs managed to win all three of its home matches before losing the series' decisive Game 7.[16] Kelly was fired at the end of the 1976–1977 season, ending 30 consecutive years at ice level in the NHL. Kelly coached 742 regular season games during his NHL career of which his team won 278, lost 300 and tied 134. He coached 62 NHL playoff games winning 24 of these.[17]

Political career

Leonard Patrick "Red" Kelly

Member of the Canada Parliament
for York West
In office
June 18, 1962  November 7, 1965
Preceded byJohn Hamilton
Succeeded byRobert Winters
Personal details
Political partyLiberal
Andra Carol McLaughl (m. 1959)

Kelly was elected to the House of Commons of Canada in the 1962 federal election at the York West riding under the Liberal party led by Lester B. Pearson. He defeated Conservative incumbent John Hamilton. He was re-elected there in the following year's election in which his Progressive Conservative opponent was future NHL agent Alan Eagleson. Kelly continued to play with the Toronto Maple Leafs during his terms as a Member of Parliament. During the Great Canadian Flag Debate, he received opposition from Leafs owner Conn Smythe who opposed Pearson's plans to replace the Red Ensign flag with the Maple Leaf.[18] He did not seek re-election in 1965, but left federal politics after his two terms in the 25th and 26th Canadian Parliaments, because he wanted more time with his family.[19] He was succeeded in York West by fellow Liberal Robert Winters.

Achievements and facts

Personal life

Kelly son Leonard Patrick Kelly Jr. represented Canada in the Albertville and Lillehammer Olympics in Long Track Speed Skating. Kelly was the granduncle of hockey player Mark Jankowski of the Calgary Flames and a cousin to Jack Riley. On May 2, 2019, Kelly died at the age of 91.

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1943–44St. Michael's MidgetsMinor-ON810515
1944–45St. Michael's BuzzersBig-10 Jr. B11151328711168246
1944–45St. Michael's College MajorsOHA-Jr.10000
1945–46St. Michael's College MajorsOHA-Jr.2613112418111017
1946–47St. Michael's College MajorsOHA-Jr.30824321193369
1946–47St. Michael's College MajorsM-Cup955102
1947–48Detroit Red WingsNHL606142013103252
1948–49Detroit Red WingsNHL595111610111126
1949–50Detroit Red WingsNHL701525409141342
1950–51Detroit Red WingsNHL701737542460110
1951–52Detroit Red WingsNHL671631471651010
1952–53Detroit Red WingsNHL70192746860440
1953–54Detroit Red WingsNHL6216334918125164
1954–55Detroit Red WingsNHL70153045281124617
1955–56Detroit Red WingsNHL7016345039102462
1956–57Detroit Red WingsNHL701025351851010
1957–58Detroit Red WingsNHL611318312640112
1958–59Detroit Red WingsNHL678132134
1959–60Detroit Red WingsNHL506121810
1959–60Toronto Maple LeafsNHL18651181038112
1960–61Toronto Maple LeafsNHL642050701221010
1961–62Toronto Maple LeafsNHL5822274961246100
1962–63Toronto Maple LeafsNHL662040608102686
1963–64Toronto Maple LeafsNHL70113445161449134
1964–65Toronto Maple LeafsNHL70182846863252
1965–66Toronto Maple LeafsNHL63824321240220
1966–67Toronto Maple LeafsNHL611424384120552
NHL totals 1316 281 542 823 327 164 33 59 92 51

Coaching record

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
LAK1967–68 74313310722nd in WestLost in first round
LAK1968–69 76244210584th in WestLost in second round
PIT1969–70 76263812642nd in WestLost in second round
PIT1970–71 78213720626th in WestDid not qualify
PIT1971–72 78263814664th in WestLost in first round
PIT1972–73 4217196(73)5th in West(fired)
TOR1973–74 78352716864th in EastLost in first round
TOR1974–75 80313316783rd in AdamsLost in second round
TOR1975–76 80343115833rd in AdamsLost in second round
TOR1976–77 80333215813rd in AdamsLost in second round

See also


  1. "Stanley Cup Dynasties". National Hockey League. Retrieved July 20, 2009.
  2. "100 Greatest NHL Players". January 1, 2017. Retrieved January 1, 2017.
  3. Normandin, Pierre G. (1965). Canadian Parliamentary Guide.
  4. Duhatschek, Eric; et al. (2001). Hockey Chronicles. New York City: Checkmark Books. ISBN 0-8160-4697-2.
  5. Duhatschek, Eric; et al. (2001). Hockey Chronicles. New York City: Checkmark Books. ISBN 0-8160-4697-2.
  6. "One on One with Red Kelly". Legends of Hockey. Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved June 21, 2018.
  7. Bob Scott (June 7, 1967). "Leafs Want Class For Kelly". The Montreal Gazette. p. 37. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  8. McFarlane, Brian. 50 Years of Hockey. Greywood Publishing Ltd.
  9. "History – Leonard Patrick "Red" Kelly". Official website of the Los Angeles Kings. Retrieved March 7, 2015.
  10. "Penguins Hire Red Kelly," St. Petersburg (FL) Times, Thursday, 3 July 1969.
  11. "Red Kelly named coach and G.M. for Pittsburgh," The Associated Press, Friday, 22 May 1970.
  12. "'Second Guessing Plague Of Coaching' Red Kelly," United Press International, Tuesday, 16 January 1973.
  13. "Kelly resigns from Penguins," United Press International, Sunday, 30 January 1972.
  14. "Penguins fired Kelly and hire Schinkel," The Associated Press, Sunday, 14 January 1973.
  15. "Maple Leafs Sign Kelly As Coach," The Associated Press, Tuesday, 21 August 1973.
  16. "Leafs employ 'pyramid power,'" The Associated Press, Saturday, 24 April 1976.
  17. The Sports Hall of Fame Encyclopedia. Scarecrow Press. 2011. p. 528. ISBN 9781461673705. Retrieved March 8, 2015.
  18. Levy, Gary (June 1, 1989). "Interview: Leonard (Red) Kelly". Canadian Parliamentary Review. Retrieved June 10, 2010.
  19. "Interview: Leonard (Red) Kelly". Canadian Parliamentary Review. Vol. 12 no. 3. Autumn 1989.
  20. "Red Kelly". Retrieved September 25, 2014.
  21. "Toronto Maple Leafs retire the numbers of 17 players". October 15, 2016. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  22. Beam, Todd (October 11, 2018). "Detroit Red Wings to retire Red Kelly's No. 4". Retrieved October 11, 2018.
Preceded by
Edgar Laprade
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
Succeeded by
Sid Smith
Preceded by
Sid Smith
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
1953, 1954
Succeeded by
Sid Smith
Preceded by
New award
Winner of the Norris Trophy
Succeeded by
Doug Harvey
Preceded by
Ted Lindsay
Detroit Red Wings captain
Succeeded by
Gordie Howe
Preceded by
Don McKenney
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
Succeeded by
Dave Keon
Preceded by
Position created
Head Coach of the Los Angeles Kings
Succeeded by
Hal Laycoe
Preceded by
Red Sullivan
Head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Ken Schinkel
Preceded by
John McLellan
Head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Succeeded by
Roger Neilson
Preceded by
Jack Riley
General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Jack Riley
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