Beginning with the 1996-97 season, the Patrick J. Kelly Cup is awarded annually to the playoff champion of the ECHL.
History: Named in recognition of Patrick J. Kelly, one of the founding fathers of the ECHL. Kelly served as Commissioner of the ECHL for the first eight seasons before being named Commissioner Emeritus in 1996, a title which he continues to hold. Upon his retirment as Commissioner, the ECHL retired the previous championship trophy, the Jack Riley Cup, and introduced the Patrick J. Kelly Cup, which he awards to the champion each season.
Kelly is celebrating his 68th season in hockey in 2020-21, having begun his career with the St. Catherine Tee Pees of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 1952. He played professionally for the Springfield Indians of the American Hockey League, the Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League, and the Greensboro Generals of the Eastern Hockey League. Kelly coached in the Eastern Hockey League from 1965-73 and was head coach and general manager of Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League from 1973-76. He coached the Colorado Rockies in the NHL in 1977-78 and is the only coach to lead the Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following coaching stops in the American Hockey League, he went to Peoria in the International Hockey League where he led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup in his first season in 1984-85. The ECHL is proud to recognize his distinguished career by naming its most coveted trophy in his honor.