Jim Kelley, a longtime sports writer and member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 61.
Kelley was a hockey columnist on Rogers Sportsnet's website and a broadcaster on all-sports radio station The Fan 590. He filed his final column for Sportsnet.ca at 1:30 a.m. Tuesday — a retrospective on Brian Burke's career with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"Jim displayed every attribute you would want not only in a journalist, but a person as well," Patrick Grier, Sportsnet's managing editor of hockey, said on the website. "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."
Buffalo News sports editor Steve Jones confirmed that Kelley died Tuesday at Buffalo General Hospital.
Kelley spent much of his 30-year career covering the NHL for the newspaper before taking jobs with FoxSports.com, ESPN.com, Sports Illustrated, as well as his work in Toronto.
Kelley covered 23 consecutive Stanley Cup finals, and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004 upon receiving the Elmer Ferguson Award for outstanding work in hockey journalism. He was scheduled to be inducted into the Buffalo Sabres' Hall of Fame on Jan. 1.
"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,"' hockey columnist Mark Spector said on Sportsnet.ca. "He would break the story the team didn't want broken, and had a legendary dust-up with Dominik Hasek because of it."
Kelley questioned Hasek's toughness in a 1997 column, and when Kelley approached the Sabres goalie for an interview after a loss to the Ottawa Senators in the opening round of the playoffs, Hasek attacked the writer, receiving a three-game suspension and $10,000 US fine.
Kelley is survived by his wife Susan, daughters Erin and Megan, and three grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending.