New Brunswick

David (DK) Kelly remembered by Saint John Sea Dogs as a force of nature

Longtime Saint John Sea Dog equipment manager and advocate David Kelly has died following a long battle with cancer late Wednesday night. He was 40.

David Kelly, former equipment manger with the hockey team, died Wednesday night at age 40

David (DK) Kelly, former equipment manager for the Saint John Sea Dogs, died Wednesday from cancer. (Saint John Sea Dogs)

David Kelly, the popular Saint John Sea Dogs equipment manager who logged 800 games behind the bench before devoting his time to raising money for cancer education, has died after a long battle with the disease.

The 40-year-old Kelly, known as DK, died Wednesday night.

He retired from the Sea Dogs last June 2018 to focus on fundraising for his #TeamDK kindness movement, which started after he was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer. He was helping to raise money for the Saint John Regional Hospital oncology department education fund.

Known for his unwavering strength and positive outlook, he spent 13 years working in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Sea Dogs.

Kelly was described as a force of nature, according to Trevor Georgie, president and general manager of the Sea Dogs.

Georgie said Kelly will be missed. Even though he knew Kelly had cancer, the news still came as a shock. 

He was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer. (Elke Semerad/CBC)

"Just to see someone who is faced with such major life challenges battle through it, push through it, fight through it, be resilient, be in the moment, I think certainly rubbed off on those players," he said.

Georgie said some of his fondest memories are of visits to Kelly's office, when the two men would talk about their nephews. 

"Those stories, that really had nothing to do with hockey, but really more personal and … his love for his family, those conversations are the ones I'm replaying today."

He said the entire Sea Dog organization is sending its thoughts to Kelly's family and longtime girlfriend, Dominique Leger. 

Kelly, who was with the Sea Dogs for 13 years, was a big fan of the Boston Red Sox. (David Kelly )

He said the team will hold a moment of silence in Kelly's honour at a game Thursday night against the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in Harbour Station. 

Hundreds of tributes have poured in online from politicians, former NHL players and celebrities. 

In a tweet, Hockey Night in Canada host Ron MacLean called Kelly a brother.

Wayne Long, federal Liberal MP for Saint John-Rothesay, and former Toronto Maple Leafs player David Ling offered condolences on Twitter.

Canadian comedian Gerry Dee, and several sportscasters from TSN and SportsNet also took to social media to share their thoughts. 

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