20 Greatest Red Wings (#6)
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11-09-2012, 04:23 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Originally Posted by
I have been puzzled by this for years. And I haven't even seen a strong hypothesis why it has not been retired.
Everything I have read is pointing out that Kelly was a class-act, both on and off the ice. Hell... even very troubled Sawchuk got his number retired. Also Kelly never left himself Detroit, but was shipped out by crazy Jack Adams. The same thing happened to Lindsay and his number is retired. Frankly, I don't understand why Kelly is not up there with others. Maybe had too much success with Toronto? Big rivalry and all.
I recall reading years ago that Mr. I is opposed. I don't think it's known precisely why, as Kelly's obviously worthy as a player, but that would explain the org dragging their feet.
Here's a picture of the two of them shaking hands... but he's in Leaf regalia and captioned "Maple Leafs legend Red Kelly."
Digging further, I found this:
Kelly, the first Norris Trophy winner in 1954, was selected eight times as an NHL All-Star defensemen in his seasons with Detroit, six as a first-team All-Star.
Yet the Ilitches and Jimmy Devellano refuse to hang Kelly's No. 4 where it belongs.
Tradition hangs heavy with the Red Wings, it seems. In 1959, Kelly broke a bone in his ankle. He continued to play with the injury. His injury was kept secret.
The next season Kelly explained to a journalist why he had not played was well as usual at the end of the 1959 schedule. He admitted he'd had a broken ankle.
The fiery and often angry Jack Adams was then general manager of the Red Wings. Adams was furious at Kelly for revealing the secret.
In spite, Adams traded Kelly to the New York Rangers. Kelly refused to go and said he would retire. So Adams traded Kelly to the Maple Leafs — and on to four more Cup championships.
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