by Don Goodwin
Dan Kelly was named to the Hockey Hall of Fame on October 3, 1989, just eight months after he died of cancer at 52. Dan had established his broadcasting bona fides in Canada, coming into his own as Ottawa’s outstanding sportscaster and football broadcaster as well as illustrating a natural talent for ‘calling’ hockey games.
He moved onto a larger stage in 1968 when, at the urging of then-Blues coach Scotty Bowman, he was hired to be the voice of the NHL’s new St. Louis Blues. He soon became a fixture on U.S. and Canadian network hockey telecasts and part of some of hockey’s great moments, such as his call of Bobby Orr’s goal which beat the Blues and gave Boston the Stanley Cup in 1970.
Dan was known as something of a perfectionist and certainly a ‘no-nonsense’ guy who pulled no punches, on the air of off. If a player had a rough night — he’d point it out — and then bring it up with the player after the game.
Longtime Blues star Brian Sutter talked of one game in which he’d been penalized for fighting. “Dan was all over me on the air and after the game. He said: ‘you can’t score goals from the penalty box.’ I knew he was concerned about me.”
Sutter listened to Blues games on the radio as a youngster and remembers: “It made the hair on the back of my neck stand up and my spine tingle from the enthusiasm of Dan’s call of the games.”
Kelly remained loyal to the Blues despite years of franchise turmoil. “Through all of the ups and downs of the organization, Dan was the constant .. he held the franchise together,” said Blues executive Susie Mathieu. Blues Chairman Michael Shanahan said: “In sports we talk a lot about franchise players .. Dan Kelly was a franchise broadcaster.”
Sons John and Danny each followed in his footsteps as hockey broadcasters.