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Rick Zamperin: Remembering Maple Leafs, Red Wings great Red Kelly

Hockey legend Red Kelly passed away Thursday morning in Toronto at the age of 91. AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File

Another Canadian hockey icon has passed away.

About two months after the deaths of NHL legends Ted Lindsay and Harry Howell, we are now mourning the loss of Red Kelly.

The former star defenceman with the Detroit Red Wings — and later a star centre with the Toronto Maple Leafs — died Thursday morning in Toronto at age 91.

READ MORE: Hockey Hall of Famer Red Kelly dead at 91

Leonard Patrick Kelly, nicknamed “Red” for his fiery red hair, passed away 52 years to the day after the Maple Leafs’ last Stanley Cup championship, which he was a big part of.

The native of Simcoe, Ont., played in the league for 20 seasons, won the Stanley Cup eight times — four each with the Leafs and Wings — and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969 after the mandatory waiting period was waived.

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His career statistics won’t blow you away — 823 points in 1,316 games — but his exploits on the ice were exceptional.

In 1997, the Hockey News ranked Kelly at No. 22 in its Top 100 Players of All Time.

He was the first winner of the James Norris Trophy as the NHL’s top defenceman in 1954.

Kelly was also the first head coach of the expansion Los Angeles Kings before he moved behind the bench for the Pittsburgh Penguins and then the Maple Leafs.

He also moonlighted as a politician during his playing days after being elected as the Liberal MP for the Toronto riding of York West in 1962 and ’63.

Let’s see one of today’s NHLers try that. Yes, indeed, Kelly was one of a kind and will be missed.

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