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Saxon on the Storm: The Guelph Storm loses a GM and a gentleman

Mike Kelly's dignity and professionalism is something to be envied
Saxon on the Storm

A gentleman.

It's a term used sparingly these days and often in generic context.

But I challenge you to find anyone that has had dealings with Mike Kelly over the years and not come away with the impression that they dealt with a gentleman in the true meaning of the word.

The Guelph Storm general manager is stepping down at the end of this year, semi-retiring to the Niagara area to put more focus on family and less on hockey, something that he himself admits hasn't always been the case over the course of his career.

There are those that will wonder if there are more factors at play here, but anyone that has seen the look on his face when his grandchildren have come into his office on some post-game nights would have those thoughts quickly dulled.

And yes, in the hockey world hindsight is 20/20 and hockey decisions he has made over the years are open to debate, as they should be. Just not today. Not now.

This isn't about a questionable draft pick or suspect coaching move. Today is about recognizing the man who has played a tremendous role in creating the positive and respected culture that is the Guelph Storm organization.

You meet a lot of characters in junior hockey rinks, not all of them sound ones.

But many of them are. The E.J. McGuires and the Alex Campagnaros of the world, who conduct themselves with a dignity and consideration for others that is part of their personality, not their profession. Kelly is one of those.

In all the years I've known him I think we only ever really had one terse exchange.

I had written a column speculating about the possibility of Storm player Hunter Garlent being traded and the Garlent family had called Kelly to complain about said speculation.

He called me a little upset, but relatively speaking it was a mild exchange. I think he might have used the word "blessed" twice.

I'm sure he will stay involved in the game in some way and on some level. He has too much to offer and loves the game too much not to.

But for now, it's time to take a step back.

People are judged by the way they act, not the words they use and in every sense of the word Mike Kelly has conducted himself with grace, dignity, professionalism and integrity. Whether it was players, parents, fans or billets, he treated people the right way.

In a business where everyone has an opinion about everything, no one — friend and foe alike — ever had a bad one about Kelly.

And that speaks volumes.