For the second day in a row, the number’s representative spent time with the same two teams: the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Leonard “Red” Kelly was born in Simcoe, Ontario and grew up listening to broadcasts of Maple Leafs games. Red Kelly even went to St. Michael’s College, a traditional Leafs feeding school at the time. The pieces were set for him to play for the team he grew up following closely.
However, due to a Leafs’ scout opinion on Kelly, the Leafs chose not to sign him and Kelly went on to sign with the Red Wings. He would play in Detroit for 13 seasons, winning a Norris Trophy and three Lady Byng Trophies. He was named a First Team All-Star for four consecutive seasons from 1951 to 1955 as well as 1957. He also was named a Second Team All-Star in 1950 and ’56. To top it all off, Detroit won four Stanley Cups with Kelly in a Red Wings uniform.
Obviously, Kelly’s career in Detroit was nothing short of remarkable. However, in 1959, Kelly injured his ankle. The team kept it a secret and Kelly played through it, causing his game to suffer. When he revealed that his ankle was hurt, the team was none too happy and planned to trade him.
Originally, they agreed to a deal that would send Kelly to the New York Rangers. However, not wanting to play in New York, Kelly said he would rather retire than agree to be traded to the Big Apple.
Maple Leafs coach Punch Imlach intervened and tried to convince Kelly to play for the Leafs. Even though the fact his hometown team turned him down at the beginning of his career still stung, he eventually agreed to be traded to Toronto.
Once he arrived, he switched from defenseman to centre. As a playmaking defenseman, his skills transitioned well to the centre position. Placed on a line with Frank Mahovlich, Kelly made Mahovlich, already a great player, even better.
During his tenure with the Leafs, Kelly would win another Lady Byng Trophy and another four Stanley Cups.
Fun fact No. 1: Red Kelly has won the most Stanley Cups of any player without playing for the Montreal Canadiens.
Fun fact No. 2: During his tenure as a Leaf, he was a Member of Parliament for the Canadian Liberal Party from 1962 to 1965.