Friday

Neil Belland

Neil Belland was a part time defenseman with the Vancouver Canucks during the 1980s. He played 109 games in his career, scoring 13 goals, 32 assists and 45 points.

Belland was a skilled puck mover and mobile skater, but had trouble handling the bigger NHL forwards. On more than a couple of occasions Edmonton's Mark Messier unceremoniously running right over the 180 pound Belland, funky moustache and all.

Belland was a late bloomer. Never drafted, the Canucks signed him in 1980 and let him develop in junior with the Kingston Canadiens.

Belland turned pro in 1981-82, and played really well in the minor leagues. With injuries decimating the Canucks blue line he was called up and surprised many with his solid play. In fact Belland dressed for all 17 of the Canucks playoff games as the advanced all the way to the Stanley Cup final for the first time in franchise history.

Expectations for Belland were greatly elevated after that strong rookie campaign, and he never really lived up to them. Over the next four season Belland was up and down between the Canucks and minor leagues, never really cementing a full time job with the Canucks notoriously weak blue line.

In 1993, while playing his fifth season of pro hockey in Austria, Belland suffered a serious injury to his right hand when an errant skate sliced him so severely that he had to retire. He tried his hand (no pun intended) at coaching before becoming a constable with the Toronto city police.

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