Patrick J. 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 1989. 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. Catharines TeePees of the Ontario Hockey Association Junior A in 1952. He played professionally for the Trois Rivieres Lions in the Quebec Hockey 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 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 of the Charlotte Checkers 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 to lead the Rockies into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following coaching stops in the AHL, Kelly went to the Peoria Rivermen 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).
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