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The Patrick J. Kelly Cup: A Legacy of Hockey Excellence


Since the 1996-97 season, the Patrick J. Kelly Cup has stood as the ultimate prize in the world of the ECHL, awarded annually to the playoff champion. Yet, it's not just a trophy; it's a symbol of dedication, passion, and a storied history that encapsulates the essence of the sport.


A Tribute to a Founding Father


The cup's namesake, Patrick J. Kelly, is one of the true founding fathers of the ECHL. For the league's first eight seasons, he served as its Commissioner, guiding it through its formative years with unwavering commitment. In 1996, recognizing his immense contribution, he was honored with the title of Commissioner Emeritus, a position he still holds with great pride.


Upon his retirement as Commissioner, the ECHL made a significant decision that forever linked his name to the league's crowning achievement. The previous championship trophy, the Jack Riley Cup, was retired, making way for the introduction of the Patrick J. Kelly Cup. This new trophy would bear his name, symbolizing the pinnacle of success in ECHL hockey.


A Remarkable Journey in Hockey


In 2022-23, Patrick J. Kelly celebrates an astounding 70 seasons immersed in the world of hockey. His journey began in 1952 with the St. Catherine Tee Pees of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, marking the inception of a legendary career.


Kelly's professional playing days included stints with the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, the Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League, and the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League. However, it was in his roles as a coach and leader that Kelly truly left an indelible mark on the sport.


From 1965 to 1973, he coached in the Eastern Hockey League, honing his skills and sharing his passion for the game. In 1973, he took on the mantle of head coach and general manager of Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League, further solidifying his reputation as a hockey luminary.


In 1977-78, Kelly ventured into the NHL as the head coach of the Colorado Rockies, a feat that stands as a testament to his coaching prowess. Under his guidance, the Rockies made their mark in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a remarkable achievement in the team's history.


After successful coaching stints in the American Hockey League, Kelly found himself at the helm of the Peoria Rivermen in the International Hockey League. In his very first season in 1984-85, he led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup, etching his name in the annals of hockey history.


A Legacy Honored


The ECHL, recognizing Patrick J. Kelly's extraordinary contributions and enduring legacy, decided to name its most coveted trophy in his honor. The Patrick J. Kelly Cup is a symbol of excellence, resilience, and the enduring spirit of the game.


It represents not only the pinnacle of achievement in ECHL hockey but also a tribute to a man who dedicated his life to the sport. As players, coaches, and fans alike strive for glory, they do so with the knowledge that they are competing for the Patrick J. Kelly Cup, a trophy that embodies the very essence of hockey excellence.

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