2018 ECHL Champion Colorado Eagles Never Returned Kelly Cup After Celebration

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorJune 1, 2019

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA - MAY 26: Feature of the official gold medal game puck during the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Slovakia final game between Canada and Finland at Ondrej Nepela Arena on May 26, 2019 in Bratislava, Slovakia. (Photo by RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images)
RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images

The Colorado Eagles won the East Coast Hockey League's Kelly Cup last season after taking down the Florida Everblades. Similar to the NHL and its Stanley Cup tradition, the ECHL winner gets to keep the Kelly Cup for a year before returning it to the next champion.

However, ECHL commissioner Patrick J. Kelly said the Eagles have not done so, even with the team now an ex-ECHL member and current American League Hockey affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche.

Kelly spoke on AM 1230 in Toledo (h/t Greg Wyshynski of ESPN) this week and revealed the news.

"I don't know if I should say this or not, but Colorado kept the trophy, if you can believe it," Kelly said. "They still have it. This is a new trophy. They won the Cup two years in a row, and their owner just said, 'We're going to keep it.'"

The two sides have gone back and forth with public statements.

"The management of the ECHL has full knowledge of the situation with the Kelly Cup," Eagles owner Martin Lind said in a statement. "We have made numerous attempts to return it. They have chosen to ignore our requests, therefore the Kelly Cup remains in Colorado. This is all that will be released regarding this matter."

The ECHL lobbed its own claim back at the Eagles:

"Despite a confirmed plan with Eagles' management to return the Kelly Cup to the ECHL in December 2018, the arrangement was not fulfilled. In reaction to this, the League created a new Kelly Cup, complete with the history of players, coaches, and staff that have earned ECHL Championships over the past 30 years, including the inscription of 'Patrick J. Kelly' on the Cup itself to honor the man that is the trophy's namesake.

"This Cup represents the fourth Kelly Cup in ECHL history, with the older models enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. If the Colorado Eagles do intend to return the Kelly Cup, the ECHL welcomes its return so that it too may be a part of hockey history."

The Stanley Cup somehow gets returned to its next owner every year despite players having the opportunity to take the trophy anywhere for a day. It's traveled around the entire world and been lost numerous times, including in Siberia just last year.

The Kelly Cup has not seen as good fortune despite all parties knowing where it is, but the ECHL has at least created a new trophy for its winner, which should be decided soon with the finals in full swing.

The Newfoundland Growlers are the favorites to lift the next Kelly Cup, as they are currently leading the Toledo Walleye three games to one in the best-of-seven series.