ECHL, Colorado Eagles at odds over return of Kelly Cup

Newfoundland-Growlers

The Newfoundland Growlers celebrate after defeating the Florida Everblades in game 5 of the East Coast Hockey League eastern conference championship in St. John's on May 18, 2019. (HO - Jeff Parsons / CP)

The Newfoundland Growlers are a win away from an ECHL championship. But if they come through in Game 5 against the Toledo Walleye, they won’t be lifting the Kelly Cup — at least not the same one as last year.

In a statement released Saturday, the league said it has created a replacement trophy — bearing the names of winning players, coaches and staff from the past 30 years — because the 2017-18 winners, the Colorado Eagles, who made the jump to the AHL for this season, did not return it.

“As stated by ECHL commissioner Emeritus Patrick J. Kelly yesterday morning, the tradition of returning the championship trophy to the League was not honoured by the Colorado Eagles,” said the statement.

“Despite a confirmed plan with Eagles’ management to return the Kelly Cup to the ECHL in December 2018, the arrangement was not fulfilled.”

This is the fourth iteration of the Kelly Cup, with previous models enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“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,” said the league.

The mystery of the trophy’s disappearance emerged Friday when Kelley revealed that the Eagles hadn’t given it back to the league in an interview with Fox Sports 1230.

The team’s owner, Martin Lind, responded by saying they have tried to send it back to the ECHL, but their attempts were ignored.

“The management of the ECHL has full knowledge of the situation with the Kelly Cup. 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,” Lind said in a statement.

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