Former Penguins head coach and Hockey Hall of Famer Leonard "Red" Kelly passed away on Thursday morning in Toronto. He was 91 years old.
"Red was a devoted husband and caring father and grandfather and was tremendously proud of his many hockey accomplishments," the Kelly family released in a statement. "He was very moved by decades of love and support from Red Wings fans and was humbled to have his jersey retired earlier this year. We are comforted in knowing that he impacted so many people both at and away from the rink and know that his life will be celebrated. Arrangements will be announced once they are finalized."
Kelly played 21 seasons in the NHL from 1947 to 1967 -- 13 with Detroit and 8 with Toronto -- and was an eight-time Stanley Cup champion. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 1969.
Kelly coached the Kings for the first two years following his playing career before leaving to become the head coach in Pittsburgh for the 1969-70 season. Kelly led the Penguins to a 26-38-12 record in his first year behind the bench, finishing in second place in the Western Conference and clinching the Penguins' first postseason appearance.
Kelly's Penguins missed the playoffs the following year in 1971, and returned to the postseason in 1972. He was fired midway through the 1972-73 season, and went on to coach the Maple Leafs for four seasons before retiring from coaching.
Kelly's No. 4 was retired by the Maple Leafs in Oct. 2016, and by the Red Wings in Feb. 2019.
“It is no surprise that Red was a fan favorite at the NHL’s Centennial Celebration in 2017, when he endeared himself to an entirely new generation of hockey fans," commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "I was in awe at the reverence and respect today’s players had for him – even though they may have never seen him take the ice.
“Red was the ultimate hockey renaissance man who seemingly could do it all. The inaugural winner of the Norris Trophy, Red won his first four Stanley Cups as one of the League’s best defensemen and his next four as a forward. He was a champion boxer during his school days at St. Michael’s College, yet he won the Lady Byng Trophy for gentlemanly conduct on the ice four times. For three years, he was simultaneously a player for the Maple Leafs and a member of the Canadian Parliament.
“For all of his professional success, Red often said the greatest joys in his life came from his family – especially his wife, Andra, who was his lifelong partner. We send our deepest condolences to the entire Kelly family, as the hockey world mourns the loss of one of the greatest players and men that the game has ever known.”
The Maple Leafs released the following statement:
"The entire Toronto Maple Leafs organization mourns the passing of Red Kelly," said Maple Leafs President and Alternate Governor Brendan Shanahan. "For those of us who were lucky enough to have known or encountered Red, we will all miss his sharp mind and keen intellect. He was a gentle man but a fierce competitor. Above all, he was a family man, and he will be missed by his hockey family. Our deepest sympathies go out to Andra, their children, grandchildren and the entire Kelly family."
The Red Wings released this statement:
"Red Kelly was one of the most accomplished players in the history of the Detroit Red Wings, a tremendously impactful figure to the game of hockey, and a wonderful person and family man," said Red Wings Governor, President and CEO Christopher Ilitch. "I would like to extend our most sincere condolences, on behalf of Marian Ilitch and the entire Red Wings family, to his wife, Andra, and all of his family and friends. Red was a true hockey legend and had the remarkable distinction of being considered one of the best at his position as both a defenseman and a forward during his career. His on-ice achievements speak for themselves, between eight Stanley Cup championships and his collection of league awards and honors. Beyond that, he was a gracious and humble person, and he will be sorely missed by all who knew him."
The Penguins gave this statement on Twitter:
The Pittsburgh Penguins organization mourns the loss of Hockey Hall of Famer and former Penguins head coach Red Kelly. Kelly passed away this morning at the age of 91.
Our thoughts are with the Kelly family, their friends, and the hockey community. pic.twitter.com/dyax7LYMCQ
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) May 2, 2019
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