Tuesday November 30 2010 – 11:46pm Eastern – Toronto, ON 

Some stories move me to veer away from the usual Raptors / basketball chat that is normally saved for this space.  And today is one of those days.  This is one of those stories …


As informed, insightful, connected, opinionated, entertaining, and engaging as Jim Kelley was ON the air … he was even more special OFF the air, in every day life.  He was a genuine man; a kind-hearted person who was as loved in his personal life – with family and friends – as he was respected in his professional life. 

The hockey world, the sports world … the world … lost one of the good ones on Tuesday. 

You’ll be missed Jim.

E. Smith


For more on Jim Kelley’s life, please take the time to read this obituary from my friends at Sportsnet and Sportsnet.ca:


Hall of Fame hockey columnist Jim Kelley died Tuesday after a lengthy battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 61.

Kelley began covering the NHL in 1981 for The Buffalo News and went on to cover the Stanley Cup Finals for 23 straight years. In 2004, Kelley received the prestigious Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for honour in journalism and hockey. Later the same year he would be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Kelley was a broadcaster on all-sports radio station The Fan 590 and had been a columnist for sportsnet.ca for several years. On Tuesday he filed a column evaluating the two-year reign of Brian Burke in Toronto called ‘All part of the process’

SPORTSNET.CA’s Mark Spector remembers Kelley as an old school veteran with an impeccable work ethic.

“To any writer of my generation, Jim was old school. A column, sidebar and notes were considered a regular day on the beat for Jimmy at the Buffalo News – 1700 words boss? No trouble just get it all in. There, Jim became to Sabres fans what Frank Orr was in Toronto and Jim Matheson still is in Edmonton: a workhorse, who gave you a laugh every day while keeping you up on your team,” said Spector.

“He was that veteran scribe who could sniff out a misdirection play from some coach or organization faster than you could say ‘Hull’s foot was in the crease.’ He would break the story the team didn’t want broken, and had a legendary dust-up with Dominik Hasek because of it. In his last year, when he realized his days were few, he shared much with me whenever I’d call or email. So eloquent, so oozing perspective.

“He filed his final column at 1:30 am on the day he passed. This, dear readers, was a sports writer’s sports writer,” said Spector.

“Jim displayed every attribute you would want not only in a journalist, but a person as well,” said Sportsnet’s Managing Editor of Hockey Patrick Grier. “He operated with a character and integrity that was to be admired, and it led him to stories lesser writers wouldn’t get. He was a true pro, and I know he would take a special pride in having filed a column on the day he died,” said Grier.

Kelley was known and respected for having a voice and taking a stand, even if it was the unpopular one.

In his own words, Kelley said of his writing: “I don’t ask you to agree with what I write, but I would hope you read it with an open mind, think about what’s being said and, hopefully, realize that there is always more than one way to see the game.”

Kelley is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Erin and Megan, and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending.



6 Responses to “Kelley Passes Away”
  1. 1.

    My best to his family, work and home. R.I.P.

    - T.J.
  2. 2.

    I was lucky enough spend a few nights out with Jim in Pittsburgh when he was covering Buffalo in the early 90′s. I was doing some work for the Pens and we would go out for a beer after the game with the local Pittsburgh writers and Jim was always the voice of reason and a very personable guy. RIP Mr. Kelley.

    - Mike Hughes
  3. 3.

    makes me want to drink alchoholic beverages

    - kaitlin
  4. 4.

    Jim Kelly………
    I just heard while listening to the fan tonight at 5pm, that he died yesterday.
    I had no idea it would affect me the way it has.
    I think because I did not know he was sick with cancer, and I listen a lot, so I am VERY surprised I never heard of his illness, and equally so surprised at his death.
    I guess it goes that he did not want to make anything of his cancer, so never spoke of it on air.
    But I am so moved because I am now realizing, due to the reflection on Jim’s life in my life, that I very much enjoyed him, enjoyed his opinion, respected his words, and was very entertained when he and Bobcat had their conversations.
    I have never called your show (the fan 590), and this is the first time I have come to your website, but know that it is true, I have listened for years and years and have enjoyed it all the way along.
    I am now realizing that I care for the people on air, and I enjoy turning the fan on each day (and sometimes I enjoy turning it off…), and that it plays a part in my life.
    Jim Kelly was a part of that, and I will not hear him when I turn on your radio station anymore,… I guess I took it for granted…. so… I want to say thank you.
    Thank you.
    Rest in peace Jim.

    - Cory Oliver
  5. 5.

    Man I miss Jim already. What a shock. I wish I could have met him. he was one of the good guys.

    - Rob Hendrickson
  6. 6.

    Jim will be missed and its a sad day in Canadian spots writting history.

    My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.

    - Graeme
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