Chris Kelly joined the Bruins in 2011, when the then-rebuilding Senators sent him over at the trade deadline for a second round pick. During the 2011 post season and the 2011-12 season, he proved his worth and was rewarded in the summer of 2012 with a 4 year, 12 million dollar contract set to expire in the summer of 2016.
Last night, on November 3rd, 2015, Chris Kelly sustained a leg injury that will keep him out of the line up for 6 to 8 months, or until his contract expires. Many considered his 3 million AAV to be an over payment, and with many forwards filling similar skill sets to him being left out in the cold over the summer, Kelly will be lucky to get an NHL contract, let alone one from the Bruins.
You can do the math.
Chris Kelly was often unfairly pegged as a Campbell-lite. Your bog-standard, #grit-n-heart bottom 6 center that had lots of nice words thrown at him by talking heads, but never actually contributed in any empirically measurable way. Sometimes he was compared to David Clarkson. A tough player with characteristics GMs over value, that was over paid based off of one fluky season. He wasn't. He was simply an excellent shutdown center. Nothing more, nothing less.
Chris Kelly was criminally, criminally underrated during his time in Boston. Kelly was one of the best shutdown centers in the league during his career. In terms of dCA, which measures the amount of shot attempts a player prevents compared to an average player, Kelly was downright elite. In the 10 years between 2005 and 2015, Kelly was one of the top 25 centers in the entire league in terms of dCA.
In 2014-15, Kelly had a dCA of 58.78, meaning that 58.78 more shot attempts would have gone against the Bruins if an average player had taken Kelly's minutes. In that same year, Joe Pavelski had a dCF of 58.31, meaning that the Sharks would have had 58.31 less shot attempts if they had played an average player instead of Pavelski. This means that in 2014-15, Kelly was as valuable to the Bruin's defense as Joe Pavelski was to the Shark's offence.
Chris Kelly was my favorite type of hockey player. He was a defensively outstanding bottom 6 center that could shutdown the world's best offensive super stars. He didn't succeed because of flashy talent and skill. He succeeded because he payed attention to details. He succeeded because he worked both harder and smarter than the competition. He succeeded because he did the little things so well that they became big things.
It's cliche and melo-dramatic to call a sports player "inspirational", but I'm not going to lie. Sometimes when I'm thinking of slacking off, I think about players like Chris Kelly giving everything they've got on the ice, knowing they won't get shit for praise afterwards. Sometimes when I want to quit, I think about Chris Kelly getting a nasty face injury from Scott Gomez, only to come back and play like a freaking demon with a cage on his face. Sometimes if I'm not feeling confident, I think about players like Chris Kelly using his sheer tenacity to shut down stars with more talent in their pinky toe than he has in his entire body.
It's a bit of an over reaction to cry because a guy you've never met can no longer slide around ice and wave a stick around to prevent the scoring of made-up points.
And yet, the tears are here.
The Bruins can't do anything now but win some games for him. I don't know about you, but I like that plan.