Patrick J. Kelly was named Commissioner Emeritus of the ECHL following the 1995-96 season, after serving as Commissioner for the first eight seasons of the ECHL.
He was inducted into the ECHL Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class in 2008 and in 2016, received the Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
Kelly celebrates his 65th season in hockey in 2017-18 having begun his career with the St. Catherine Tee Pees of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in 1953. He played professionally for the Trois Rivieres Lions in the Quebec League, the Troy Bruins of the International Hockey League and the Greensboro Generals, Jersey Devils and Clinton Comets of the Eastern Hockey League. He helped Crowland capture the 1948-49 Bantam B Championship of Ontario, beating Peterborough in the finals.
He began his coaching career in the Eastern Hockey League, serving as player/head coach beginning with the Jersey Devils in 1964-65 and continuing with the Clinton (New York) Comets from 1965-73. Clinton was 151-39-28 and won three straight regular season and postseason titles from 1967-68 through 1969-70. In 1967-68, the Comets finished with a 57-5-10 record, making them the only professional team in history to lose only five games or less in a season, and in 1969-70, Kelly was named Minor League Coach of the Year by The Hockey News. Kelly served as head coach and general manager for Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League from 1973-76 guiding the Checkers to a 136-68-12 record, two regular season titles and two postseason titles while earning Coach of the Year honors in the SHL twice.
He coached the Colorado Rockies in the National Hockey League in 1977-78 and is the only coach in history to lead the Rockies into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Following coaching stops in the AHL, Kelly went to Peoria in the IHL where he led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup in his first season behind the bench in 1984-85. He recorded his 800th career win on January 4, 1987 and was inducted into the Peoria Sports Hall of Fame in February of 1990. Kelly was inducted into the Roanoke Hall of Fame and the Sports Hall of Fame in his hometown of Welland, Ontario in 1998, in March of 2002 he became the first inductee into the Greensboro Hockey Hall of Fame when the Generals retired his uniform number (5). He was also part of the first class of inductees into the Charlotte Hockey Hall of Fame in 2008 and in June 2010, he was inducted into the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame.
Patrick and his wife, June, reside in Charlotte, North Carolina.