There’s something about seeing a large trophy sitting on a table that draws people to it. It seems that there will be a number of opportunities to see one of these large trophies out and about over the next two months as the ECHL announced that the Kelly Cup, its championship trophy, will tour through eight ECHL cities where fans can get close to the prestigious trophy before the ECHL starts its postseason. If you wanted to see a trophy that has a ton of history behind it and hear a pile of facts about who has won it, this is your chance to get close to one of North America’s most storied trophies!
The Kelly Cup Tour will begin on February 25 in Duluth, Georgia where the Gladiators play. The Kelly Cup will travel 7814 miles over the following two months as it makes appearances in all sorts of places in those eight ECHL cities that the league identified as landing spots. Among them, they include:
- February 25 at Gas South Arena in Duluth, Georgia.
- March 5 at Santander Arena in Reading, Pennsylvania.
- March 11 at Wings Event Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
- March 18 at Hertz Arena in Estero, Florida.
- March 25 at The Monument in Rapid City, South Dakota.
- April 1 at Heritage Bank Center in Cincinnati, Ohio.
- April 9 at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling, West Virginia.
- April 16 at Cross Insurance Arena in Portland, Maine.
In terms of facts and history, there’s a lot to learn about the Kelly Cup if you’re not following the ECHL closely. For example, were you aware that the Kelly Cup was held hostage by a team? In one of the weirder things I’ve ever seen, the Colorado Eagles, who now play in the AHL, kept the Kelly Cup after winning it in 2018 and seemed to refuse to return it to the ECHL after making the jump to the AHL. After a public battle over the Kelly Cup began, the Eagles quietly returned the trophy to the ECHL and everyone went on with life, but I do not recall any other team in the history of the game holding onto a trophy belonging to another league.
From the ECHL, current Ariona Coyotes forward “Jay Beagle is the only person to win a Kelly Cup, Calder Cup and Stanley Cup championship during his career. In addition to winning the Kelly Cup with Idaho in 2007, Beagle won the Calder Cup with Hershey in 2009 and 2010 and the Stanley Cup with Washington in 2018 “which is all sorts of awesome.
The ECHL also published that Scott Burt, Jared Bednar, Riley Gill, Louis Mass, Matt Register and Patrick Wellar are the only individuals to have their name engraved on the Kelly Cup three times. If his name jumps out to you, Jared Bednar is the most recognizable as he is the current head coach of the Colorado Avalanche! Bednar won as a player with South Carolina in 1997 and 2001 before winning as the head coach of the Stingrays for in 2009, but he also has a Calder Cup championship on his coaching resume when he led the Lake Erie Monsters to the AHL championship in 2016 ! Could he add an NHL championship to his resume this season as well?
While this little Kelly Cup Tour is a nice thing for the ECHL to be doing, I would have loved to have seen the trophy drop by Trois-Rivières this year as the Lions are having an outstanding season the ECHL’s North Division as they sit in third -place, just three points back of first-place Newfoundland as the battle for playoff spots within the standings continues. The Lions are 24th out of 27 teams in terms of per-game attendance, so they could use a draw to their rink for games to help the team establish a bit of a better foothold in the community.
That will not happen, though, as the Kelly Cup is not coming north of the border for this fan experience, so the Canadian squads will have to go out and earn the Kelly Cup’s appearance the old-fashioned way, it seems. Newfoundland has done it before, so it’s not like that’s an impossible task!
If you’re near any of those eight cities mentioned above, get out and see the Kelly Cup. According to the ECHL, there are all sorts of opportunities to see the trophy as it will make “appearances at games, schools, sponsors, radio and television stations and other community events” throughout the 50 days that it spends on the road. I’ll be more surprised if you do not run into the Kelly Cup if it’s going to be that busy, so keep your eyes peeled as the Kelly Cup Tour begins in a few days!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!