Nfld. & Labrador

The curious case of the Kelly Cup: New trophy created with Growlers on the verge of victory

The Newfoundland Growlers are a win away from having their names etched into the Kelly Cup. The only problem is the cup is in Colorado. And the team that last lifted that trophy now plays in another league.

Cup remains in Colorado with last year's winner, replacement trophy made

With a 4-2 win over the Toledo Walleye on Friday, the Newfoundland Growlers are one win away from winning the (new) Kelly Cup. (Newfoundland Growlers/Twitter)

With a win on the road in Toledo, Ohio on Saturday night, the Newfoundland Growlers will have their names etched into the Kelly Cup as the champions of the ECHL.

The only problem is the Kelly Cup is in Colorado. And the team that last lifted that trophy now plays in another league.

In a statement released on Saturday afternoon, the ECHL confirmed comments made by former league commissioner — and the trophy's namesake — Patrick Kelly on Friday that "the tradition of returning the Championship Trophy to the League was not honored by the Colorado Eagles." 

The statement said that while a plan was confirmed with Eagles management to return the cup in Dec. 2018, that "arrangement was not fulfilled."

As a result, the league said it has created a new Kelly Cup, "complete with the history of players, coaches, and staff that have earned ECHL Championships over the past 30 years."

The Patrick J. Kelly Cup (left), seen alongside the ECHL playoff MVP award. (ECHL)

Colorado Eagles Owner Martin Lind, whose team won the cup in 2018 and has since become part of the American Hockey League, refuted the league's claims, however, in a brief statement released on Friday.

"The management of the ECHL has full knowledge of the situation with the Kelly Cup. We have made numerous attempts to return it," Lind said. 

"They have chosen to ignore our requests, therefore the Kelly Cup remains in Colorado."

Heading into Saturday night's game, the Growlers lead the best-of-seven playoff series three games to one, but for whichever team wins the right to hoist the cup as ECHL champions, they'll be raising a brand new trophy.

And if the Eagles do intend to return the other Kelly Cup, the league said it "welcomes its return so that it too may be a part of hockey history," along with older models of the cup that rest in the in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.

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