Red Kelly
Position Defenceman/Centre
Shot Left
6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
195 lb (89 kg)
Teams Detroit Red Wings
Toronto Maple Leafs
Nationality Flag of Canada Canadian
Born July 9, 1927,
Port Dover, ON, CAN
Died May 2, 2019,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Pro Career 1947 – 1967
Hall of Fame, 1969

Leonard Patrick "Red" Kelly, (born 9 July 1927 in Port Dover, Ontario-May2, 2019), is a retired Canadian player in the NHL. He played on more Stanley Cup winning teams (eight) than any player who never played for the Montreal Canadiens.

Junior CareerEdit

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.


Red Kelly

NHL CareerEdit

Although the Majors were usually a talent pipeline for the Maple Leafs, the NHL club passed on Kelly after a scout predicted he wouldn't last 20 games in the NHL, and the nineteen year-old joined the Detroit Red Wings in 1947. In 1954 he was runner-up for the Hart Trophy and won the Norris 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.

An exceptional player at both ends of the ice, Kelly was known not only for his great checking skills as a defenceman, but also for his exceptional puck-handling and passing skills as well. Kelly used all these elements to help the Red Wings move the puck down the ice very quickly. When injuries hampered the team, he sometimes played as a forward (a position he adapted to easily when needed). In over twelve years as a Red Wing the team won eight regular-season championships, the Stanley Cup four times and Kelly was chosen as a First Team All-Star defenceman six times.

Late in the 1959 season, Kelly broke his ankle. However, the Red Wings kept the injury a secret, and Kelly played through the pain as the Red Wings missed the playoffs for the first time in 21 years. 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. Maple Leafs head coach Punch Imlach stepped in and tried to talk Kelly into playing for him. Though he disliked Maple Leaf Gardens and as a young player was disappointed by the scathing assessment of that Toronto scout, Kelly agreed to be traded to the Leafs.

Once Kelly arrived in Toronto, Imlach asked him to 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. He won his fourth Lady Byng Award in 1961. In his eight seasons with the Leafs, they won the Stanley Cup four times - 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 7th all time in career points, 5th 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 CareerEdit

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. However, Imlach insisted that Los Angeles draft Kelly in the expansion draft, and after the Kings failed to do so, refused to release Kelly's rights until Los Angeles traded a minor-league defenceman to the Leafs.

Despite being the only rookie coach, and being in charge of the favorites to finish last, Kelly went on to guide the Kings to second place in the West Division and made the playoffs two years in a row.

In 1969–70, Kelly moved on to coach the Pittsburgh Penguins for three seasons, making the playoffs in his first and last seasons with the team. Kelly returned to the Maple Leafs as coach in 1973. He stayed in the position from 1973–74 to 1976–77. The team earned a playoff berth in all 4 seasons with Kelly as head coach but got eliminated in the quarterfinals each time.

His final regular season coaching record was 261–311–128.

Coaching RecordEdit

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
G W L T OTL Pts Finish Result
LAK1967–68 74313310-722nd in WestLost in First Round
LAK1968–69 76244210-584th in WestLost in Second Round
PIT1969–70 76263812-642nd in WestLost in Second Round
PIT1970–71 78213720-626th in WestDid Not Qualify
PIT1971–72 78263814-664th in WestLost in First Round
PIT1972–73 4217196-(73)5th in West(fired)
TOR1973–74 78352716-864th in EastLost in First Round
TOR1974–75 80313316-783rd in AdamsLost in Second Round
TOR1975–76 80343115-833rd in AdamsLost in Second Round
TOR1976–77 80333215-813rd in AdamsLost in Second Round

Achievements and TriviaEdit

Career StatisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1946–47St. Michael's MajorsOHA309243313
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


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 captains
Succeeded by
Gordie Howe
Preceded by
Don McKenney
Winner of the Lady Byng Trophy
Succeeded by
Dave Keon
Preceded by
Head Coaches of the Los Angeles Kings
Succeeded by
Hal Laycoe
Preceded by
Red Sullivan
Head Coaches of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Ken Schinkel
Preceded by
John McLellan
Head Coaches of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Succeeded by
Roger Neilson
Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coaches
ARENAS: D. Carroll • ST. PATS: Heffernan • Sproule • F. Carroll • O'Donoghue • Querrie • Powers • Rodden •
MAPLE LEAFS: Romeril • Smythe • Duncan • Irvin • Day • Primeau • Clancy • Meeker • Reay • Imlach • McLellan • Kelly • Neilson • Smith • Duff • Crozier • Nykoluk • Maloney • Brophy • Armstrong • Carpenter • Watt • Burns • Beverley • Murphy • Quinn • Maurice • Wilson • Carlyle • Babcock • Keefe

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