Before the Red Wings had Nicklas Lidstrom, they had Kelly, who was pushing the offensive boundaries of what a Defenseman was expected to do. Finishing third for the Calder in 1947-48, Kelly was a Second Team All-Star with 40 Points, and was a key figure on a Red Wings Stanley Cup team that also had Gordie Howe, Sid Abel, Terry Sawchuk, and Ted Lindsay. The Red Wings were the "it team" in the first half of the 50s, and Kelly was entrenched as their defensive leader and spot offensive player when called upon (as shown when he played at Center in the 1950 Cup).
From the 1950-51 Season to the 1954-55 Season, Kelly was a perennial First Team All-Star, and he won three more Stanley Cups and three Lady Byng Trophies. When the Norris Trophy was unveiled in the 1953-54 Season to be given to the NHL's top Defenseman, appropriately, it went to Kelly, who was also second for the Hart that year. Kelly never won a second Norris, though he was in the top three in the three seasons that followed. After 1955, he added a Second Team and a sixth First Team All-Star Selection to his resume.
The end for Kelly’s run in Detroit came in the 1959-60 season. It was an era where injuries were not disclosed, and Kelly let it slip to a reporter that his lack of production was due to a broken ankle. It seems strange now, but this angered the Red Wings brass so much that they set to ship him off. Detroit sent him to New York, but Kelly refused to report, saying that he would retire instead. That deal was voided, and in February of 1960, Kelly was now a Toronto Maple Leaf.
Kelly was no longer dominant, but he won four more Cups with Toronto. With the Red Wings, he amassed 472 Points, an incredible amount for a Defenseman.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1969, and fifty years later, his no. 4 was retired by the team.