Red Kelly’s No. 4 will be added to the rafters at Little Caesars Arena later this season when the Detroit Red Wings retire the Hall of Famer’s jersey on Feb. 1.
Kelly, now 91-years-old, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969 after a legendary 20-season career with the Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs, who will be the opponent the night he is honoured.
“I wish to thank (Red Wings owners) Marian and Chris Ilitch for this great honour,” Kelly said in a press release. “The Red Wings gave me my start in the NHL 71 seasons ago. I proudly wear the ring which commemorates the four Stanley Cups the team won when I played for Detroit.
“I treasure the memories I made during my time with the team, playing alongside some of the greatest players and people in the league’s history. I am truly grateful that my number will be raised next to those of several of my former teammates.”
Kelly broke into the NHL as a 20-year-old with the Red Wings in the 1947-48 season and skated 13 years on the blue line in Detroit. As a Red Wing, he played in 846 games and scored 162 goals and 472 points. He also won four Stanley Cups in the 1950s with them and the first Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenceman in 1953-54.
“Red is one of the greatest Red Wings in the history of the franchise, and we think it’s long overdue for the organization to celebrate his numerous accomplishments,” Chris Ilitch said. “Red was a prolific player for two decades and was a leader for the Red Wings during one of the most dominant decades in franchise history, which brought four Stanley Cup championships to Detroit.
“We are looking forward to this special celebration with Red and his family.”
Kelly was traded to the Maple Leafs during the 1959-60 season and switched from defence to centre. In Toronto, he won another four Stanley Cups, giving him eight total, the most by any player who never played for the Montreal Canadiens.
Kelly retired after winning the Cup with the Maple Leafs in 1967, finishing his career with 281 goals and 823 points in 1,316 games. His resume also includes a long head coaching career with the Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Maple Leafs, as well as a three-year career in Canadian Parliament while still a player with the Leafs.
Kelly will be the eighth Red Wings player to have his number retired by the team, joining Terry Sawchuk (1), Nicklas Lidstrom (5), Ted Lindsay (7), Gordie Howe (9), Alex Delvecchio (10), Sid Abel (12) and Steve Yzerman (19).