ECHL makes new trophy after Kelly Cup not returned by champions

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Here’s a fun one from the world of the ECHL. 

The Kelly Cup, awarded annually to the league champion, was not returned by the Colorado Eagles, who won the last two titles and has since moved into American Hockey League. Speaking on AM 1230 in Toledo on Friday, Patrick J. Kelly, Commissioner Emeritus of the ECHL and for whom the trophy is named after, revealed that the Eagles have kept it and not given back to the league office.

“I don’t know if I should say this or not, but Colorado kept the trophy, if you can believe it,” said Kelly. “They still have it. This is a new trophy. They won the Cup two years in a row, and their owner just said, ‘We’re going to keep it.”

Eagles owner Martin Lind released a statement in response for Kelly’s claim stating that the team did in fact attempt to the return the trophy, but no one from the league office got back to them.

“The management of the ECHL has full knowledge of the situation with the Kelly Cup,” Lind wrote. “We have made numerous attempts to return it. They have chosen to ignore our requests, therefore the Kelly Cup remains in Colorado. This is all that will be released regarding this matter.”

Here’s what the ECHL came back with:

“Despite a confirmed plan with Eagles’ management to return the Kelly Cup to the ECHL in December 2018, the arrangement was not fulfilled. In reaction to this, the League created a new Kelly Cup, complete with the history of players, coaches, and staff that have earned ECHL Championships over the past 30 years, including the inscription of ‘Patrick J. Kelly’ on the Cup itself to honor the man that is the trophy’s namesake. This Cup represents the fourth Kelly Cup in ECHL history, with the older models enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. 

“If the Colorado Eagles do intend to return the Kelly Cup, the ECHL welcomes its return so that it too may be a part of hockey history.”

ECHL commissioner Ryan Crelin told David Briggs of the Toledo Blade that the Eagles sent the trophy back to the league to be engraved after they won their second straight title last season. Crelin said the Kelly Cup was then sent back to the Eagles so they could celebrate their home opener with it, even though they were moving into the AHL.

More from the Toledo Blade: 

The ECHL confirmed a plan with Colorado to return the Cup in December, but when the time came, Eagles management misplaced the mailing address. An unnamed source told the Denver Post the Cup is “safe” and in “pristine condition,” though a photo of the trophy with a current newspaper was not provided as proof.

“We can’t take the players names off but I can’t say his name but I wish we could take his name off,” Kelly said of Lind.

Meanwhile, with the new Kelly Cup on the line, the expansion Newfoundland Growlers own a 3-2 series lead over the Toledo Walleye with Game 6 coming up on Tuesday.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.