Red Kelly's talent and versatility were never more evident by the way he successfully converted to the centre position with Toronto after all-star service on the blue line of the Detroit Red Wings. After his arrival in 1960 from the Red Wings, Kelly's winning habits were a key ingredient in four Stanley Cup championships in eight seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs. This championship total 'book-ended' the four he had already achieved in his celebrated tenure in the Motor City.
Upon his arrival to the Maple Leafs, trainer Tommy Nayler felt that Kelly should wear the number four since it was worn with great distinction earlier by Hap Day, Bob Davidson and Harry Watson. Nayler's instincts were on the mark. Thriving in his new role down the middle, Kelly accumulated the most playoff points (55) of any Maple Leaf during the dynasty of the 1960s. A three-time 20-goal man with Toronto, Kelly led the team in assists twice and he was an extremely effective pivot playing on a line with dynamic goal scorer, Frank Mahovlich.
Kelly, roundly recognized as one of the game's most honourable men, was a four-time recipient of the NHL's Lady Byng Trophy, including one captured in 1960-61 as a Maple Leaf. The trophy is in recognition for his sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct.
Following in the footsteps of many Toronto standouts, Kelly would also make his mark in the club's all-time coaching register. In 1976, Maple Leaf followers will fondly recall Kelly's 'pyramid power' –an attempt to harness power by placing pyramids beneath their bench-during the club's postseason. His clubs would earn playoff berths in each of his four seasons behind the bench from 1973 to 1977 and they advanced to the second round on three of those occasions. He posted 133 regular season coaching wins which places him in a tie for fifth place with Pat Burns on the team's all-time wins list.
As a tribute to his contribution to the game, Kelly was elected to the Hall of Fame after only two seasons instead of the customary five seasons at that time. He also served two terms in Canada's Parliament (1962 to 1965) during his playing days with Toronto.
Kelly's Honoured Number banner has been in the rafters of Air Canada Centre since October 4, 2006.