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03-24-2009, 09:02 AM
Don't waste my time
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The GM head office in Prague is puzzled but tickled that an all-time great at what he does, in terms of talent, peak, career and championship experience is still available: one of the great support players and a significant part in the history of hockey: two-way talented, tough, hardworking, feisty, ferocious, competitive, clutch, leader, team-first, successful on a top line or checking line, deserving of the main draft as a quality depth pick in an all-time context

Bob "Hound Dog" Kelly, fierce, forechecking left winger

one of the toughest and the most tenacious... True to his nickname, Kelly bounded across the ice like an unleashed bloodhound, throwing his body around with abandon. A consummate team player, Kelly did whatever it took to win. He'd be the first in line to fight to defend a teammate.
He'd sacrifice offense for defense. He'd chip in timely goals.

Off the ice, Kelly's good-natured sense of humor and outgoing personality made him a favorite of teammates, fans, and reporters alike.
A consummate team player, Kelly was a sparkplug in the Flyers Stanley Cup engine.

362 points in 837 NHL games with 1454 PIM and 23 GWGs (23 points, 172 PIM in 101 playoff games)
4-time Stanley Cup finalist, 2-time champion

The ‘Houndog’ brought plenty of bite to his game as one of the Broad Street Bullies, but Bob James Kelly could also hurt the opposition in plenty of other ways, too....

“The kid has lots of polish and is definitely hard to ignore,” praised the ex-Flyers coach, of the rugged rookie, who appeared in 76 games in 1970-71. “He can also add some offensive punch to our lineup.”

In his first year at the pro level, Kelly, when he wasn’t bowling over opponents or dropping the gloves, provided 14 goals and 18 assists, making him a valuable asset at both ends of the ice.

He duplicated that goal total in his sophomore campaign, reaching the double-digit mark in tallies in three of his first four NHL seasons. And as Kelly became more comfortable in his contributions, he began to elevate the physical side to his game, part of an intimidating group that would eventually earn the well-deserved ‘Broad Street Bullies’ moniker.

Aside from his hard-hitting ways, Kelly was a plus player in the truest sense, sporting a positive plus/minus rating in his first 10 NHL seasons, including a stellar plus+21 in 1974-75.

Kelly was also a major player in Philadelphia’s back-to-back Stanley Cup wins in 1974 and 1975, crashing and bashing rivals with a steady diet of bone-crushing body checks. In 1975, he netted three goals and added three assists in 16 playoff games.

On a team that featured mobility and muscle,... Kelly fit in perfectly.

In his final year in orange and black, 1979-80, Kelly had 15 goals and 20 assists, accompanied by 122 penalty minutes and a plus-19 rating, typical statistics for a player that relied on grit and guts to get the job done on a nightly basis.

In the summer of 1980, Kelly was traded to the Washington Capitals.. ‘Hound dog’ responded to the trade in fine fashion, scoring a career-best 26 goals along with 36 helpers. Although the Caps didn’t make the post-season, there was no ignoring the forward’s fine play during the regular schedule.

Overall, Kelly played in 837 NHL contests, recording 154 goals and 362 points. He was also a veteran of 101 playoff games, netting nine goals and 23 points overall.

It was truly a remarkable career for a player who went full-out every shift he took, never giving an inch to anyone regardless of their size or reputation.

...a solid offensive player at the junior level (21 goals and 44 points in 54 games as an Oshawa Generals rookie... it was already clear that his physical play, more than his goal scoring, would be Kelly's calling card.

Kelly was not only a fearsome forechecker, he also knew what to do when he dropped the gloves. He quickly gained the reputation as one of the toughest...
In Kelly's second OHA season, he averaged close to a point-per game (21 goals and 53 points in 54 games) to go along with his 117 penalty minutes.

"My first three NHL games were an unbelievable test for me and the whole team. Right away, I'm out there playing against teams like Montreal and Boston," says Kelly today. "I nearly froze up on my first shift. I'm out on the ice and there's guys like Henri Richard and [Jean] Beliveau."

Kelly soon overcame his nerves. During much of his rookie and second season, he played left wing on Clarke's line. Both years, Kelly tallied 14 goals. In his second season, he added 157 penalty minutes to the mix.
"My role changed under Freddie (Shero)," says Kelly today. "We had guys like Billy Barber and Ross Lonsberry who could play on the scoring lines, so Freddie used me to give the guys energy."

Shero did not view taking Kelly off of Clarke's line as a demotion, even if it meant less ice time for the player. Rather, he said that forechecking and fighting were areas where Kelly could stand out.

"If Bob Kelly scores twenty goals, I'm not using him properly," said the Fog (coach Fred Shero) in 1973. "He's got something that's hard to come by. No coach in the world can make a guy do what Kelly does. It's not in his contract. It comes from within him."

Every player from new team captain Bobby Clarke on down had the utmost respect for Kelly's value to the club.

"Anyone who says Kelly doesn't belong in the NHL has no idea what goes into winning hockey games," said Clarke in the mid-1970s. "Show me a team that wouldn't take Kelly in a heartbeat and I'll show you a team that doesn't want to be a winner."

While Dave "The Hammer" Schultz was the Flyers' best known and most frequent pugilist, Kelly was arguably the toughest. "He always gets in three or four punches before the other guy realizes he's in a fight," marveled Clarke. "He throws punches faster than anyone in the league."

Even the Hammer himself concurred. "In terms of pure toughness, Kelly was first on the Flyers and I was second," Schultz told prolific hockey writer Stan Fischler. "With all due respect, Kelly became the heavyweight champion of the Flyers."

Statistically, Kelly had the worst season of his career in 1973-74. In 65 games, he scored just four goals and 14 points in fairly limited ice time and went pointless in the playoffs. His penalty totals dropped from 238 minutes to 130. But, as always, stats revealed little about his value to the team. For example, one night during the 1973-74 season, the Rangers jumped out to a 3-0 lead at the Spectrum. Shero's Flyers needed every bit of energy Kelly could provide them. The Hound toppled Rangers left and right, whipped Ron Harris in a fight, and assisted on two goals, helping the team rally all the way back to earn a tie.

Kelly's battles with the Rangers continued in the playoffs. After the Flyers dispatched the Atlanta Flames in the first round, they embarked on a seven game war with the Blueshirts. Kelly was a thorn in the Rangers' side throughout the first two games. Shero sent Kelly to "hound" Harris and drive New York to distraction with his forechecking. Rangers coach Emile Francis countered by switching Harris to another line and replacing him with rookie Jerry Butler. Kelly promptly pounded Butler. The Flyers took the first two games of the series at home.

scored the 1975 Stanley Cup winning goal

One of Shero's offbeat practice drills was to have his players take the puck behind the net, swing out quickly in front and try to score. The winner received a $5 prize. Little did anyone know that the drill would pay huge dividends. With the Flyers leading the Buffalo Sabres 3 games to 2 in the Stanley Cup Finals, they entered the third period of Game 6 in a scoreless deadlock. In the opening minute of the third period, Shero sicked the Hound on the Sabres. Kelly pounced on huge Sabres defenseman Jerry Korab behind the Buffalo net, jarring the puck free. He then swooped out in front of the net and beat Sabres' goalie Roger Crozier for his 3rd goal of the playoffs and the biggest goal of his career. Kelly was mobbed by his teammates. As he got back to the bench, he looked at Shero and said, "Freddie, that's five bucks you owe me." Kelly's tally was all Philly would need. A Bill Clement insurance marker gave the Flyers a 2-0 win behind Bernie Parent's shutout goaltending. The Flyers were once again the Stanley Cup champions. Today, Kelly says that he considers the second Cup "a little bit sweeter" than the first, because he was such a key contributor.

January 11th, 1976, Kelly manhandles the Red Army in the Flyers 4-1 win

Kelly enjoyed two his best seasons in 1976-77 and 1977-78. The first year, he received increased ice time and, for the first time, cracked the 20-goal barrier to go along with his 125 penalty minutes. The next, he scored 19 and was a playoff warrior, with three goals, eight points and uncounted big hits in 12 games. In particular, Kelly gave the Toronto Maple Leafs fits.

...the Flyers new head coach... Quinn's first moves was to experiment with a new line combination. He put Kelly on the left wing of a line with tough center Mel Bridgman... providing both energy and supporting offense... With Kelly, as usual, working tirelessly in the corners and creating extra room for teammates, Bridgman went on to score 24 goals and 59 points in addition to his 184 penalty minutes "Bob Kelly is one guy I never have to worry about," said Pat Quinn shortly before the 1979-80 season. "He comes to play every night and he's a leader both on and off the ice."

The 1979-80 season would be Kelly's last as a Flyer. He made it count. Now playing a veteran leadership role, Kelly dressed in 75 regular season games and 19 playoff contests. Although assigned primarily to checking duties, Kelly scored 15 goals. He also still knew how to lift the club's spirits with a well-timed fight or body check (122 penalty minutes). Kelly was right in the thick of the action as the Flyers set a North American professional sports record by going undefeated in 35 consecutive games. They ultimately lost in a heartbreaking six game Stanley Cup Final against the New York Islanders, who went on to win four consecutive Cups.

The Flyers traded Kelly to the lowly Washington Capitals... Knowing only how to play full speed ahead, the Hound put up his highest penalty totals since 1972-73 (157 penalty minutes). He also had to take on an increased offensive burden and responded with his best statistical season in the NHL – 26 goals and 62 points.

Kelly retired with 837 regular season games and 101 playoff tilts to his credit. He notched 154 regular season goals and 1,454 penalty minutes without having played a single game in the minor leagues.

scored an important momentum-preserving insurance goal as a game star in the Flyers' NHL record-setting 29th consecutive unbeaten game (in what would become their 35-game streak), a 5-2 win over Boston in 1980

"The Hound" was an instant hit with the Flyers fans and his teammates. Kelly soon became one of the team's resident pranksters – and was himself often the victim of practical jokes.

It was, in fact, a rookie Kelly who was the subject of one of the most elaborate practical jokes in Flyers' annals: the snipe hunt. The tale is still often retold by Kelly's old teammates and has been recounted in numerous hockey books.

For over a month, the veterans on the team told Kelly stories about all the fun they'd have snipe hunting. Then they claimed that rookies weren't allowed to participate.

"What's a snipe?" asked Kelly.

"They're sort of like pigeons," answered Flyers' veteran defenseman Ed Van Impe.

"Can you eat them?"

"Only the breasts. My wife cooks them in a wine sauce and are they ever delicious!" said Van Impe.

Kelly begged to come along. Van Impe said he'd consider making an exception to the no-rookies "rule."

Over the next few days, Kelly's teammates instructed him in the art of snipe hunting. Goalie Doug Favell had him practice "snipe calls" while enforcer Earl Heiskala told him that the way to hunt snipes is to beat the bushes with long poles and when the snipes fly, to shine a flashlight on them. The birds would get panicked and confused, giving the hunters a chance to catch them in fishing nets.

Of course, it was all a joke to initiate Kelly into the NHL fraternity. Van Impe arranged with friends in the Delaware County police department to come arrest Kelly for "hunting snipe without a license in a snipe preserve." They even arranged for a stern justice of the peace to scare Kelly into thinking he was going to jail. Finally, his teammates materialized in the courtroom and let him off the hook.

After the initial shock subsided, Kelly responded with his usual good humor.
And, for the fun of it, see retired Bob Kelly vs. Bernie Parent in tockey:

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