The East Coast Hockey League retired its playoff championship trophy, the Jack Riley Cup, in 1996 and replaced it with the Patrick J. Kelly Cup, first awarded to the playoff champion in 1997.
One of the founding fathers of the ECHL, Patrick J. Kelly was named the Commissioner Emeritus of the ECHL in 1996 and is the only commissioner in league history, serving the first eight seasons.
Standing 19 3/8 inches and weighing 25 3/8 pounds, the Kelly Cup was created by Boardman Silversmiths, Inc. in Meriden, Conn. Boardman also produces the American Hockey League’s Calder Cup as well as the U.S. Open Tennis Trophy and the Masters Golf Trophy.
Kelly celebrated his 50th season in hockey in 2002-03 having begun his career with the St. Catherines Teepees 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.
He began his coaching career in the EHL, coaching from 1965-73 in the EHL with the Jersey Devils and later with the Clinton (New York) Comets, winning three consecutive regular season and postseason titles from 1967-70. Clinton was 57-5-10 in 1967-68 making it the only professional team in history to lose five games or less. Kelly was named Minor League Coach of the Year by The Hockey News in 1969-70.
Kelly was head coach and general manager for Charlotte in the Southern Hockey League from 1973-76 winning two regular season and two postseason titles while being named SHL Coach of the Year twice. He coached the Colorado Rockies in the National Hockey League from 1977-79 and is the only coach to lead the Rockies to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, accomplishing the feat in 1977-78.
Following coaching stops in the AHL, he went to Peoria of the IHL and led the Rivermen to the Turner Cup in his first season behind the bench in 1984-85. He recorded his 800th coaching win on January 4, 1987 and was inducted into the Peoria Hall of Fame in February of 1990. In 1998, Kelly was inducted into the Roanoke Hall of Fame and the Sports Hall of Fame in his hometown of Welland, Ontario. He became the first inductee into the Greensboro Hall of Fame in March of 2002 when the Generals retired his uniform number (5).
There are seven individuals whose name appears on the Kelly Cup twice. Each of the seven had their name engraved for a second time in 2001 with South Carolina, and six of the seven were part of South Carolina’s Kelly Cup winner in 1997. Rick Adduono was an assistant coach in 1997 and head coach in 2001 while Jason Fitzsimmons was a player in 1997 and an assistant coach in 2001. Jared Bednar, Brad Dexter, Brett Marietti and Dave Seitz were all players in both 1997 and 2001. Marty Clapton is the only individual whose name appears with two different teams – 1998 with Hampton Roads and 2001 with South Carolina.