TORONTO — Family, friends and many of hockey’s most luminous names bid farewell to Red Kelly at the NHL great’s funeral Friday.
The eight-time Stanley Cup champion played 20 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, winning four Stanley Cups with each team. He died at 91 on May 2, exactly 52 years after helping the Maple Leafs win their last Stanley Cup in 1967.
Honorary pallbearers at the funeral included Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald, Bob Baun, Dick Duff, Ron Ellis, Dave Keon, Eddie Shack and Jim Gregory.
”He was a hero to us all,” said McDonald, who played for Kelly when he coached Toronto in the 1970s. ”We all looked up to him … how he lived his life. He showed us the way. … Red never swore. It was, ‘Wholly smollerinos … son of a sea cookin’ bottle washer.’ That’s the kind of gentleman he was, through in through.”
Also at the funeral were Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan, general manager Kyle Dubas, Detroit GM Steve Yzerman, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and former Toronto captain Wendel Clark.
”As much as he loved the game and he gave great service to the game and to this country … family was always first,” Bettman said. ”That’s something I always respected about him. Great, great man.”
Leonard Patrick Kelly started his hockey career as a defenseman but switched to center after his trade to Toronto. He served in the Canadian Parliament and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969.
”It was the ability to be the person he was that was so important,” former Toronto teammate Baun said. ”Red never did change, always such a great guy, very thoughtful and caring. He was as honest as the day is long.”
Kelly’s No. 4 is retired in Toronto and Detroit, and his statue is part of Legends Row outside Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, where memorabilia and a book of condolence were on display Friday.
Kelly is survived by Andra, his wife of 60 years, four children and eight grandchildren.