Born April 3, 1961 — Parry Sound, Ontario
Height 5.11 — Weight 180
Neil Belland grew up in Britt in the early 60’s skating and playing hockey on the Magnetawan River. He and his brothers took to the game, playing it for hours. Gary Sabourin, another Britt resident, was an inspiration for Neil who a few years later followed Gary’s skate marks from the Magnetawan River all the way to the NHL. The Belland family moved to Sudbury when Neil was 7 years old. Now he had the opportunity to play organized hockey and quickly advanced to the “AAA ” ranks playing for the Maclsaac Mining Traveling Team.
While playing minor hockey he won many team and personal awards including City, Northern Ontario and an all Ontario Provincial Pee Wee Championship in 1971-72 as well as Silver Stick Championships. He also received MVP and best defenseman awards at many Annual Hockey Banquets. Belland was also a very talented lacrosse player and played on a Pee Wee All Ontario Championship team.
In 1977-78 he spent a year playing junior hockey with the North Bay Trappers. The following year Belland was the first round pick of the Kingston Canadians of the OHL and enjoyed three very successful seasons. He was voted to the All-Star Team and served as assistant captain. His consistent style of determined play coupled with his kind and generous personality off the ice were admirable qualities, which endeared him to his teammates and fans.
In 1980 he signed as a free agent with the Vancouver Canucks. As a rookie in the NHL in 1981-82 he dedicated himself to becoming a successful NHL defenseman. That year the Vancouver Canucks won the Campbell Conference Championship and advanced to the Stanley Cup Finals, for the first time in franchise history, losing to the New York
Islanders in the end. Playing defense was very serious business for him and he was fearless in blocking shots. While he may have lacked size for an NHL defenseman he more than made up for it in speed, mobility and tenacity.
He spent the next six years playing professional hockey with the Vancouver Canucks, Dallas Black Hawks of the CHL and the Fredericton Express in the American Hockey League. In 1986-87 he played with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL and the Baltimore Skipjacks of the AHL.
In 1985 Belland was selected to the AHL Second All-Star team.
After having played 109 games in the NHL scoring 13 goals, 32 assists with only 32 minutes in the penalty box, Belland decided to apply his hockey skills in Europe. In 1987, he was invited to play for Team Canada in the Spengler Cup in Davos Switzerland. With grit and determination Canada won Gold Medal. Belland had an outstanding tournament and was named to the first All-Star team, the only Canadian honoured with a First Team All-Star selection.
In 1987-88 he returned to play in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears. With the skilled and composed Belland on defense the Bears went on to win the Calder Cup.
Belland decided to return to Europe for the 1988-89 season and played in Austria in Europe’s Elite Professional League. Using his speed, and natural ability to control the tempo of the game together with his great sense of anticipation he continued his outstanding play for Innsbrucker EV, ATSE Graz and EC Graz. During his distinguished career in Europe he won several all-star awards and many game star awards. In 1990-91 he added mobility and experience to the Canadian National Team.
A serious skate injury in 1993 to his right hand ended his playing career. He coached the Laurentian University Voyageurs for one year and was the assistant Coach with the Portland Pirates of the AHL.
As a young boy skating and shooting pucks on the Magnetawan River Neil Belland had dreams of playing in the NHL. It was a dream fulfilled.
Today Belland has embarked on a new career graduating in 1999 as a constable with the Toronto Police Service. He brings the same dedication and loyalty to the Police Service as he brought to the owners and his team-mates throughout his professional hockey career.
Neil Belland a sincere individual expects nothing less than success. His hockey career was one of outstanding achievement, dedication and class. He has earned his rightful place in the Bobby Orr Hall of Fame.
|1977-78||North Bay Trappers||NOJHA||50||25||36||61||30|
|1981-82||Dallas Black Hawks||CHL||27||2||20||22||18|
AHL Second All-Star Team (1985)
Signed as a free agent by Vancouver, October 1, 1980
Signed as a free agent by Pittsburgh, September 29, 1986