There are two more tributes today to late News columnist Jim Kelley, written by some of those who knew him best.
From Jerry Sullivan: "He was a hero to me, the older brother I never had. We had great times covering the Stanley Cup playoffs. Jim was amazing on deadline. He'd be so calm, sitting there crafting two columns at once. I'd be near panic, fretting over a simple sidebar, wondering what the angle would be.
Kell would smile and say, "I think I'll write something off the game." It was his way of telling me to relax and let the action play out. Watching him made me a better writer. His game columns were amazing. He had a gift for finding the essence of the contest and bringing it home to the reader.
Jim, right to the end you got the story right. The rest of us are just trying to measure up.
From Kevin Allen of USA Today, who introduced Kelley at the Hockey Hall of Fame induction in 2004: Using some vernacular from the sport Kelley covered, he was a power forward in the sportswriting world. He had top-line talent, plus the toughness and grit that not everyone has in their writing. He was an old-school sportswriter, someone who liked the reporting maybe even more than the writing. He could smell a lie, and he pushed aggressively for the truth as anyone in this business.
I last saw Kelley at the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction last month and I knew the end was near. Jim mentioned that he had lasted longer than most patients with pancreatic cancer. He talked about having a good run in our business. He was touched that NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman stopped by to say hello. Kelley had been critical of Bettman's decisions. Clearly, Kelley seemed to have a sense of pride that Bettman respected him enough not to take it personally.
The hockey writing community has lost a special member of our family.