Heading into the 1982 NHL Entry Draft, a young winger named Brian Bellows was the talk of the draft. The Kitchener Rangers forward was the complete package. He was a clutch scorer and a power play specialist. He was a hungry and courageous leader, setting the tone for his team by playing bigger than he actually was. yes, Brian Bellows did it all - heck, while injured he even filled in as head coach when coach Joe Crozier was suspended! And he became a junior hockey legend when he lead Kitchener to a Memorial Cup championship in 1982.
Teams lined up to acquire the right to draft Bellows back in the summer of 1982. But it was a bit of a surprise when Boston landed the top pick. Minnesota so badly wanted Bellows that they acquired the 2nd overall pick from Detroit and then they traded defenseman Brad Palmer to the Bruins to ensure that Bellows was not selected. The Bruins selected WHL defenseman Gord Kluzak. Bellows, who had controversially announced he did not want to play in Canada because of high taxes, went second overall to Minnesota.
He would become one of the top players in North Stars history, but never received much of the expected fan fare around the rest of the league. He was a solid, consistent two way player but he failed to put up superstar numbers like Mike Bossy or Jari Kurri or Brett Hull. Bellows was a consistent 35 goal threat who was instrumental in getting the North Stars into the Stanley Cup final in 1991, but somehow he was never revered like one would have expected him to be.
Part of that was due to the weak North Stars teams. When Bellows was drafted the North Stars were just a year removed from challenging the New York Islanders for the Stanley Cup. But the franchise fell on hard times over much of the rest of the decade. Without veteran leadership the young stars like Bellows, Neal Broten, and Dino Ciccarelli were doomed to falter. The team and many of its better players became almost irrelevant in that time period. Even the surprised Stanley Cup finals appearance in 1991 was not enough to salvage their various legacies.
In 1992 Minnesota traded Bellows to Montreal in exchange for Russ Courtnall. Bellows never balked to play for Les Canadiens.
"I was shocked but I'm excited about the new change," Bellows said at the time. "My idol was Ken Dryden. It's every kid's dream to play for the Canadiens. They're a first class organization.
It turned out to be a great move for Bellows. He put up his last great NHL season, scoring 40 goals in the regular season and then helped the Habs win the Stanley Cup in 1993.
Bellows wound up with 485 career goals, including 9 30-goal seasons, 4 40-goal seasons and a 50goal season. Impressive numbers, unless you compare them to dynamic superstars of the 1980s. Given the hype when he entered the league, there was always a hint of unexplained love lost for Bellows. For some reason I can not quite pin point much of the league just never warmed to this very special hockey player. He will go down in history not as a superstar but an underrated hockey player.