Jim Kelley

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Hockey Hall of Fame Writer

The accomplishments of athletes are readily quantifiable, and their comparative ranking among peers can be ascertained from a review of statistics. Similarly, the worthiness of an athlete for an award, or, for instance, for induction into a Hall of Fame, can be measured with reference to numbers; goals, home runs, strikeouts, passing yards, batting titles, and so on.

The greatness of a career in sports journalism is not quantifiable in those terms. Different, subjective yardsticks must be applied, and public popularity is only part of the mix. However, by any measurement, the career of Jim Kelley places him among the elite in his profession.

From his early days (pre-1980) as a copy boy for The Buffalo News, Jim has covered a “constant variety” of Buffalo sports, including three Super Bowl appearances by the Buffalo Bills. However, Kelley is primarily recognized for his coverage of the Buffalo Sabres and the National Hockey League. Beginning in 1981, Jim covered not only the Sabres, but earned a place in the press box for 23 Stanley Cup Final series. Over the years, Jim developed a reputation as a thorough, fair, and entertaining writer. In addition, Kelley was often called upon to display his integrity and a tough, critical eye during times of great turmoil within the Sabres’ organization, but was always steadfast in his reporting, secure in the belief that his readers demanded, and could handle, the truth.

Kelley’s journalistic skills served him well as he branched out into other media. He originated the weekly “Hockey Night in Buffalo,” as well as “Sharpshooters” on WNSA with partner Mike Robitaille. Although Jim makes regular appearances on Canadian and American national radio and television, his “pen” is still active for ESPN.com and FOXSports.com. His broad experience and inside knowledge of hockey led the Hockey News to proclaim Jim one of the “100 People of Power and Influence in Hockey.”

Perhaps the best indicator of the success of a career is the esteem in which one is held by his peers. Kelley is a three-time president of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, won the 1994-95 New York State Publisher’s Award for Sports Writing Excellence, and was named one of the top five hockey writers in North America by ESPN. Jim has been chosen as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Media Selection Committee, and a Staff Consultant to the International Olympic Committee for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The punctuation mark on Kelley’s life in sports writing was his induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004. Tonight, the honors and recognition continue with Jim’s induction to the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.