I'm thinking Jim Kelley would really hate that my first blog from Sabres practice today at the Northtown Center of Amherst concerns what was said about him and not about any Sabres updates. But that what happens when you're a Hall of Famer. Here were Lindy Ruff's comments today on Kelley's death:
"I traded texts with Jim a couple weeks ago," Ruff said. "I've been around Jim for a long time and I have a lot of respect for the job he did and the way he handled himself. I know how well-respected he was in the hockey media community. He was a good man. He'll be missed. He was a good example for a lot of young writers."
Ruff, of course, morphed from a young player when Kelley got on the beat in the 1981 to the team captain and then returned as coach in 1997. How did his relationship with Kelley change?
"When I coached, I didn't read anymore so the relationship got better," Ruff said with a big smile. "As a player, there was always stuff that bothered you and that's a part of the business too. That's part of what goes on. Players and coaches have to understand that. Overall, Jim was a very respected media person, especially in the hockey world."
Here are four tribute columns I have found on Kelley today.
--WGR Radio's Mike Schopp -- who hosted the wonderful "Sharpshooters" show on WNSA with Kelley and Mike Robitaille -- provides plenty of personal glimpses in this column and describes how Kelley learned to respect the craft of radio.
--SI.com's Stu Hackel, the former NHL director of broadcasting and Kelley's boss when he moved to Foxsports.com in 1999, recalls Kelley's fire and passion for the job.
--SI.com's Michael Farber, a fellow giant in the world of hockey journalism, put it out there bluntly and wonderfully: "Jim Kelley was a better person than he was a hockey writer."
--And yet another giant, Eric Duhatschek of the Globe & Mail and Hockey Night in Canada, fondly remembers remembers the road he and Kelley traveled that dates all the way back to the 1980s.
Kelley would want some practice updates too. Rob Niedermayer (knee) and Tim Connolly (groin) both skated on their own, although Niedermayer cut his skate short after a few laps. Ruff said Connolly is progressing.