Kelly Hrudey began his career in the NHL in 1983-84 after being drafted by the New York Islanders in the second round (38th overall) of the 1980 NHL Entry Draft. Kelly was a top prospect brought into replace the legendary Islander netminder Battlin' Billy Smith.
Needless to say, Kelly had big skates to fill!
Kelly was in the crease for one of the most memorable dates in NHL history, Game Seven of the Patrick Division semifinal against Washington in 1987. During that famous playoff battle, Kelly stopped 73 of 75 shots in a 3-2 quadruple overtime victory against the Capitals. The game was the sixth longest in NHL history, and was ended by a Pat Lafontaine slapshot.
After six solid seasons on Long Island, Kelly was traded to the Los Angeles Kings late in the 1988-89 season in exchange for Mark Fitzpatrick, Wayne McBean and Doug Crossman. Kelly was an instant hit in LA and had his best days with the Kings. He backstopped the team to the Stanley Cup Finals during the 1992-93 season and was selected Kings MVP during the 1991-92 and 1994-95 seasons.
Kelly fondly remembers his days in LA.
"I was there to ride the boat, basically," Kelly said. "I couldn't believe how fortunate I was to be a part of it."
Kelly signed as a free agent with the San Jose Sharks for his final two seasons of NHL play. He provided veteran leadership and NHL quality goaltending on a struggling expansion franchise.
During his 15-year career, Kelly played in 677 career games and posted a 271-265-88 mark with 16 shutouts and a 3.43 GAA. An excellent standup goalie with a rapier like glove hand.
Kelly had a weakness on his stick side and could give up huge rebounds, although he was fast to recover on these rebounds. Kelly was an aggressive goalie who thrived on a lot of work. Since he played for a lot of mediocre teams during his career, facing a lot of shots was something Kelly was used to. And under the barrage of shots that he faced on many nights it happened that he got yanked.
"That 100-foot skate to the bench after you have been pulled is the longest, slowest skate in the world. It seems likes five miles," Kelly once said.
He played a total of 85 career playoff games, posting a 36-46 record with a 3.28 GAA..
Kelly retired on July 30, 1998 to become a full-time analyst with Hockey Night In Canada. Kelly seems as comfortable with a microphone as he was in the crease.
"The game didn't come as easy or naturally as it once did. I knew that I had no interest in going anywhere else. I had no interest in leading the life of a gypsy. I have no feelings of sadness," he said in a conference call from his home in Canada when he announced his retirement. "I just cannot believe the opportunity I've had."
Today Kelly resides in Calgary, Alberta. He has become a mainstay on Hockey Night In Canada.