While the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings tonight are putting on a show for their fans, they’ll do even more later in the season. The Red Wings today announced that before their February 1 game against the Maple Leafs, they’ll retire Red Kelly’s No. 4 sweater and raise it to the rafters. It’s fitting that the ceremony will come before a game against Toronto, given Kelly’s ties to both organizations.
Making his NHL debut in 1947, Kelly played 20 seasons in the league and retired after winning his eigth Stanley Cup in 1967. One of the rare players to find great success at both forward and defense, Kelly was a perennial Norris Trophy candidate during the first part of his career—winning the award once in 1953—only to become a dominant center for the Maple Leafs years later. That versatility and skill earned him the honor of being named one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players last year, and had him inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1969. In 2016, the Maple Leafs retired No. 4 in honor of both Kelly and Hap Day.
One might think that by now the Red Wings would have almost every number retired, but the organization is extremely careful with the players that it bestows that honor upon. Only seven numbers have been retired to date, meaning Kelly will join a select group that includes Terry Sawchuk (#1), Nicklas Lidstrom (#5), Ted Lindsay (#7), Gordie Howe (#9), Alex Delvecchio (#10), Sid Abel (#12) and Steve Yzerman (#19). The last played to wear the number for the Red Wings was Jakub Kindl, and he’ll be the final one to do so after the ceremony in February.