Kelly's number comes up

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:13 AM ET

When he was a young boy, Red Kelly dreamed of playing for the Maple Leafs and winning the Stanley Cup.

But having his number one day raised to the rafters? The thought never struck him.

The Leafs will honour Kelly, Hap Day and Borje Salming prior to the season opener Oct. 4 against the Ottawa Senators, as the trio's numbers will join other Leafs greats in the Air Canada Centre.

"It's fantastic, really," Kelly said last night. "What can I say? To be put up there with (the other honoured Leafs), I'm thrilled, by all means."

Day and Kelly wore No. 4 for the Leafs; more recently, Salming wore No. 21 while patrolling the blue line. The numbers will stay in circulation. Just two players -- Ace Bailey, who wore No. 6, and Bill Barilko, No. 5 -- have had their numbers retired by the club.

Others whose numbers hang from the rafters include Syl Apps, Ted Kennedy, Turk Broda, Johnny Bower, King Clancy, Tim Horton, George Armstrong, Charlie Conacher, Frank Mahovlich and Darryl Sittler.

"They're all deserving and they have made extraordinary contributions to the club," Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Richard Peddie said. "The roof is getting pretty full. I wouldn't mind seeing some (Raptors) players up there, too."

Kelly, 79, was coaching the Leafs in 1973-74 when Salming made his NHL debut. When Salming, who gets one of the loudest ovations of any former Leaf when he appears at the ACC during games, left Toronto after the 1988-89 season, he was and remains the franchise leader among defenceman in points, goals and assists. His 620 assists are a team record.

Kelly won four Stanley Cups as a Leaf after he was acquired from Detroit. Later, when he was coaching, he was on the recruiting trip to Sweden to get Salming to play in Toronto.

Day, who died in 1990, will be represented by his son Kerry for the banner ceremony. Day's 10-year stint as Leafs captain has been bettered only by Armstrong.

"The hairs stood up at the back of my neck when I was playing in Toronto," Kelly said. "It's great to be honoured with Hap Day and Salming."


Videos

Photos