June 29, 2011

Congrats to Eddie the Eagle

by Dan Bilicki In: Ice Hockey

I couldn’t be happier for Ed Belfour. He was one of the best goalies in the NHL for a decade and now a soon-to-be member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. He was also something even more important: He was my favourite hockey player growing up.

Even when I still supported the Leafs – I became very disillusioned about the team as a teenager when they played in a directionless haze – Belfour was my favourite player in the entire league while backstopping the rival Blackhawks.

It was pretty tough to cheer against him. He was young, fiery and seemed to stop everything that came his way. He was so good as a rookie that not only did he win the Calder, he took home the Jennings and Vezina trophies and was nominated for the Hart – virtually unheard of at the time for either a rookie or a goalie and certainly not both.

Hell, he was so good that he kept future Hall of Famer Dominik Hasek on the bench.

Eddie did get into his fair share of trouble both on and off the ice. He became infamous for his temper, rivalling that of only perhaps Ron Hextall. Off the ice, the stories of his drunken antics are legendary. I’ve even heard one allegedly involved a drunken Belfour knocking out Tie Domi in a Florida hotel lobby when the enforcer tried to get him to head back to his room to sober up.

I’m genuinely happy that stories like these didn’t sway voters away from the Eagle. After last year’s travesty of a HOF class – two women, two builders and Dino Ciccarelli? Come on now – it seemed like anything was possible. But then again, it’s hard to vote against the man with a Stanley Cup, four Jennings, two Vezinas and the third most wins of all time. Then again, he could’ve been elected for his mask alone.

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