March 13, 2019 5:21 pm
Updated: March 13, 2019 5:28 pm

‘He was authentic and real’: Hundreds attend funeral for long-time Sea Dogs equipment manager

WATCH: Hundreds of people gathered in a Saint John church to pay tribute to a man known to many as simply DK. Andrew Cromwell reports.

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Hundreds gathered in a Saint John church on Wednesday to pay tribute to a man known to many as simply DK.

Long-time Saint John Sea Dogs Equipment Manager David Kelly died last week at the age of 40 after a lengthy battle with cancer. Diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2014, DK reacted by forming the hashtag kindness movement “TEAMDK” along with the monkey band apparel.

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READ MORE: Former Saint John Sea Dogs equipment manager David ‘DK’ Kelly dies

The funeral service drew people from across the country. Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean was one of the guest speakers.

Those who knew DK spoke of his desire to serve others both at the rink and away from it.

“He was just authentic and real,” said Bruce Smith of Hockey Ministries International and Sea Dogs Chaplain. “He just thought constantly of other people and served other people whether it be a player on the Sea Dogs or a trainer on another team.”

“He made those kids feel so good, whether they were the first round pick, first overall … or a walk-on kid, he treated them all the same and got to know their personalities and got to know how he can help bring out their best game,” added former Sea Dogs coach Danny Flynn.

WATCH: ‘We just lost a giant today’

The Sea Dogs were in Cape Breton for a game, but formed an honour guard at one of the visitations earlier in the week.

Kelly’s ashes were taken for one last ride in the bus by the man who safely navigated the Sea Dogs on many road trips.

“There was nothing selfish about him,” explained former Sea Dogs bus driver Granville Jennings.

“He was for everybody that was there. He did, as they mentioned in the service, keep these young fellas together in hockey. They respected him very much.”

READ MORE: P.K. Subban sends heartfelt video message to Saint John cancer survivor

Proceeds from the TEAM DK movement go to the Saint John Regional Hospital’s Oncology Education Department.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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