MISSISSAUGA, Ont. – Hockey legend Red Kelly was at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont., Monday as his No. 3 jersey was retired prior to an Ontario Hockey League game between the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors and Erie Otters.
The eight-time Stanley Cup champion was honoured to have his jersey raised to the rafters and had fond recollections on his time spent as a Major.
“It’s unbelievable,” said the 82-year-old Simcoe, Ont., native. “I’ve got a few pictures on my wall at home of being at St. Mike’s with the Majors logo and seeing it here today brings back a lot of great memories not just from hockey, but from the academic side as well.”
Kelly attended St. Michael’s College from 1943-47. In 56 career games as a Major from 1945-47, he scored 21 goals and added 35 assists and was part of the Memorial Cup-winning team in his final year.
He was signed by the Detroit Red Wings in the spring of 1947 and credited his time spent with the Majors to his success in the NHL.
“I was still learning the game in junior and had great coaches,” said Kelly, who split his 20-year NHL career with the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. “Sometimes, each coach would teach you a different lesson and by the time I was signed by Detroit, I realized I didn’t have that much to learn. The lessons I learned helped get me to the NHL quickly.”
Kelly was an eight-time NHL all-star, won the Lady Byng trophy as the league’s most gentlemanly player four times, and was the first player to be awarded the James Norris trophy as the league’s top defenceman in 1953-54. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.
He also enjoyed a 10-year coaching career in the league with the Maple Leafs, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins and served as a Liberal Member of Parliament for the York West riding from 1962-65.