RED KELLY 1927-2019 - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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RED KELLY 1927-2019

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LEONARD PATRICK (RED) KELLY, who died on May 2 in Toronto at age 91, was a star as versatile as he was accomplished. Over the course of a 30-year NHL career, which included 10 seasons coaching, he won eight Stanley Cups, the most of any player without a stint in Montreal. On the ice, he was an integral member of two dynasties (the 1950s Red Wings and the '60s Maple Leafs)—at different positions. For 13 seasons Kelly was a defenseman with Detroit, an eight-time All-Star who won the inaugural Norris Trophy, in '54. Then, after being traded to Toronto in '60, he began playing center, moved there by coach Punch Imlach, who was looking for a check against Canadiens star Jean Béliveau.

The pleasant by-products of that switch came in the breakout production of Kelly's linemate and eventual Leafs icon Frank Mahovlich, who went from 18 to 48 goals in 1960--61, and in the four Cups that Toronto lifted over the next six years. Kelly won two of them while a member of Canada's House of Commons, where he served from '62 to '65, commuting to Ottawa several times a week. The airfare alone likely cost him most of his parliamentary salary. He later recalled that before earning the seat, leaders of his Liberal Party "told me frankly that I might not win. But I never go into anything with that attitude."