Patrick J. Kelly

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For the IRA member, see Patrick Joseph Kelly. For the American surgeon, see Patrick J. Kelly (surgeon).

Patrick J. "Pat" Kelly (born September 8, 1935 in Sioux Lookout, Ontario) was one of the founders and the first commissioner of the East Coast Hockey League in 1988. Kelly was named Commissioner Emeritus of the ECHL following the 1995–96 season, after serving as Commissioner for the first eight seasons of the ECHL. The league playoff champions wins a trophy in named his honor, the Kelly Cup. Pat also coached the Colorado Rockies for two years in the late 1970s.

Kelly celebrated his 50th season in hockey in 2002–03 having begun his career with the St. Catherine Teepees of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 1952. He played professionally for the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, the Trois Riveres Lions in the Quebec League, Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League and the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League. He helped Crowland capture the 1948–49 Bantam B Championship of Ontario, beating Peterborough in the finals.

He began his coaching career in the Eastern Hockey League, beginning with the Jersey Devils and later with the Clinton (New York) Comets from 1965–73. Clinton was 151–39–28 and won three straight regular season and postseason titles from 1967–70. In 1967–68, the Comets finished with a 57–5–10 record, making them the only professional team in history to lose only five games or less in a season, and in 1969–70, Kelly was named Minor League Coach of the Year by The Hockey News. Kelly served as head coach and general manager for Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League from 1973–76 guiding the Checkers to a 136–68–12 record, two regular season titles and two postseason titles while earning Coach of the Year honors in the SHL twice.

He coached the Colorado Rockies in the National Hockey League in 1977–78 and is the only coach in history to lead the Rockies into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following coaching stops in the AHL, Kelly went to Peoria in the IHL where he led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup in his first season behind the bench in 1984–85. He recorded his 800th career win on January 4, 1987 and was inducted into the Peoria Sports Hall of Fame in February 1990. Kelly was inducted into the Roanoke Hall of Fame and the Sports Hall of Fame in his hometown of Welland, Ontario in 1998, and in March 2002 he became the first inductee into the Greensboro Hockey Hall of Fame when the Generals retired his uniform number (5).

Pat also served as head coach Eastern Hockey League's legendary Clinton Comets, and posted a 315–208–64 (wins-losses-ties) record over eight seasons. During that period, in the 1967–68 season, the Comets produced an awe-inspiring 57–5–10 record.

In 2008, he was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame.[1]

Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
Birmingham Bulls (WHA) 1976-77 57 24 30 3 (66) 5th in WHA East Missed playoffs
Colorado Rockies (NHL) 1977-78 80 19 40 21 59 2nd in Smythe Lost in Preliminary Round
Colorado Rockies (NHL) 1978-79 21 3 14 4 (42) 4th in Smythe (fired)
NHL Total 101 22 54 25

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Preceded by
Johnny Wilson
Head coach of the Colorado Rockies
1977-78
Succeeded by
Aldo Guidolin