I was saddened to hear last night that Jim Kelley had passed away after a battle with pancreatic cancer. If you grew up in the Buffalo area then you remember reading Kelley's columns in The Buffalo News. You remember the infamous Hasek incident. And anyone who follows hockey knows Jim as one of the most respected hockey writers in the league and a Hall of Famer.
I remember about a year or so ago reading one of Kelley's columns on Sportsnet.ca where he briefly mentioned that he was battling cancer and it was pretty serious, but he didn't want to elaborate much other than that. So hearing that he died last night was a painful reminder that he had been battling the disease and he unfortunately succumbed to it.
Being a columnist, especially in sports, can naturally be a controversial position to hold given you're interjecting your opinion in your writings, and even though Jim had his fair share of critics over the years (see Hasek, Dominik), he was always respected for his hockey insight even if everyone didn't always agree with him at times.
I'm not sure where I planned for this post to go, but I just felt like I should say few things about his death because I was so saddened and surprised to hear about it. If you haven't already checked it out, Mike Harrington posted some great columns written by Jim over the years, including a fascinating recollection of the controversial "No Goal" against Dallas in the Finals. He also posted various tribute columns written by others that are worth reading as well.
My thoughts go out to Jim's family and friends, and his hockey insight will be sorely missed by many hockey fans throughout the league.