Pep Kelly

North Bay, Ontario's Regis Kelly was tagged early in his hockey life as a "pepperpot" of a play thanks mainly to his tireless skating. The moniker was shortened to the name almost everyone knew him best by - Pep.

The curly haired speedster was quickly noticed by the Leafs, as he helped the Newmarket Redmen win the Memorial Cup in 1933. The Leafs had him join the St. Mikes Majors the following year, and he again was a major part of a Memorial Cup championship, this time alongside future Leafs teammates Art Jackson and Nick Metz.

With his very successful junior career over, Kelly immediately joined the Maple Leafs in 1935. The Leafs were a regular season power house although they kept stumbling in the playoffs. But Kelly stepped in nicely, scoring 11 goals in 42 games as a rookie.

In the 1936-37 season the Leafs loaned the 5'7" and 155lb Kelly to Chicago for the balance of the season. He was returned to Toronto in the summer. The practice of loaning players to undermanned teams was not unheard of in this era.

Kelly played three more unspectacular seasons in Toronto, challenging the double digits mark in goals each season. He was also a regular on the penalty kill. He was able to help the Leafs reach five Stanley Cup finals, but he never did get the chance to hoist Lord Stanley's mug.

By 1940 he was permanently moved to Chicago, but by 1941 he would find himself toiling in the minor leagues (aside from a short tour with the Brooklyn Americans), bouncing around until he retired from pro hockey in 1943.

Pep Kelly played in 288 NHL contests, scoring 74 goals and 127 points. He added another 7 goals and 13 points in 38 playoff contests.

Pep continued playing senior hockey, first in Sudbury and then back home in North Bay. He extended his hockey days by seven years chasing senior hockey glory, which in the 1940s carried a much bigger status than it does today. Three times he helped his teams to the Allan Cup tournament, though never won it all.

After retiring Kelly got a real job, working with the Canadian Pacific Railway just like his father, first as a fireman then as an engineer. A train collision in 1952 seriously injured his hip, ending his athletic days forever - both on the ice and on the golf course. Undeterred, Kelly continued to stay in hockey, coaching senior and kids hockey in North Bay while also scouting for the Leafs.

Regis "Pep" Kelly died in North Bay in 1990.


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