SUN Hockey Pool

Eagle set to soar into Hall

Goaltender Ed Belfour spent time with the Maple Leafs during his Hall of Fame NHL career. (QMI...

Goaltender Ed Belfour spent time with the Maple Leafs during his Hall of Fame NHL career. (QMI Agency file photo)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 PM ET

TORONTO - Ed Belfour could never be accused of snoozing while on the job.

Off the ice, well, that’s an entirely different story.

In a cute little yarn that has mushroomed the past five months into the type of stuff from which legends are made, the Eagle was grabbing a few winks in late June in preparation for a rec league hockey game down in the Dallas area.

While the likes of Joe Nieuwendyk, Mark Howe and Doug Gilmour were all likely battling their nerves on this particular summer day, wondering if the coveted call from the Hockey Hall of Fame would ever come, Belfour was grabbing a few zzzz’s before heading to the rink for his stint as a defenceman.

That’s right. The man with 76 career National Hockey League shutouts had shed his pads in an attempt to become his beer league’s version Bobby Orr for the Rex’s Seafood team.

Belfour was fast asleep when he was awakened by a knock on the door. It was an interruption he definitely would welcome.

His visitor was his brother-in-law, who came bearing huge news.

Congratulations, Ed. You’ve officially been voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

That Belfour would be inducted into the hallowed Hall one day did not come as a surprise, given his numbers. Only Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy won more games in the history of the league than Belfour (484) while his 76 career shutouts ranked him ninth on the all-time list.

Yes, there were those who probably figured he had a good shot at making the Hall one day.

Just not this particular day.

Not when this was his first year of eligibility.

“I didn’t expect it in any way,” Belfour recalled. “I feel like it was a real surprise.

“Obviously it’s a real honour. It’s even more an honour to be picked right away.

“I was just flabbergasted.”

“Flabbergasted” is a good description of what Belfour did to opposing shooters over the years.

And make no mistake. While the Eagle will be at his humble best during the Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies in Toronto this weekend, his famous volatility is something that became his trademark out on the ice.

“What do I remember about playing against Eddie?” Gilmour pondered on Thursday, “Easy. How competitive he was.

“Not only was he difficult to beat, he’d be talking to you all the time. He always had something to chirp about.”

As a kid growing up in Carman, Man., most of the chirping being done by young Ed revolved around one day playing in the NHL, where he would have the chance to be seen on TV from coast-to-coast on Saturday nights. Come this Saturday, he’ll be on the tube once again, this time along with fellow inductees Gilmour, Howe and Nieuwendyk for the annual Hall of Fame game at the Air Canada Centre, where the Maple Leafs, one of his former teams, will face off against the Ottawa Senators.

“Ever since he was little, about three or four years old, he he’d be watching Hockey Night in Canada and he’d say to us, ‘I’m going to be in the NHL someday,’ ” recounted his proud momma Alma.

Sure enough, when Ed Belfour put his mind to something, it often ended up coming true. In fact, of all his personality traits, some more quirky than others, it was his ability to concentrate that Ken Hitchcock remembers the most.

“I don’t know about intense,” Hitchcock said when asked about Belfour’s highly tuned motor out on the ice. “(He was more about) focus. He was oblivious to anything and everything. He would get into a zone and stay there for months.

“He played five years longer than he should have physically because he was just so damn competitive. It was his ability to focus that made him special.”

At no time was he more focused than in 1999 when he won the Stanley Cup as a member of the Dallas Stars.

“Eddie took his job really serious,” said Nieuwendyk, the Conn Smythe winner of that ’99 Stars team. “He was one of the (best) big game goaltenders that I’ve ever been able to play with.”

How fitting that the two will enter the Hall together.

Did you know?

Maybe one day, Ed Belfour will also be inducted into the Hot Rod Hall of Fame.

The Eagle’s love of muscle cars clearly is exemplified by his pet project known as Ed Belfour’s Carman Custom, a shop in Freeland, Mich. where vehicles undergo a complete transformation from The Average to The Awesome.

Maybe it’s not as well known as, say, television’s “Pimp My Ride”, but Carman Custom has it’s own list of famous celebrities who have brought their wheels in for a facelift.

WWE grappling superstar John Cena has been a client. So, too, has former Maple Leaf Bryan McCabe and his wife, Roberta. Former NHLer-turned-Tampa Bay Lightning scout Pat Verbeek had his pickup truck modified as well.

Belfour’s love of hot rods began when he was a teenager growing up in Carman, Manitoba. Decades later, he has been privileged enough to be able to covert that passion into a company that bears the name of his hometown.

Along with partner Jeff Friesen, maybe Belfour’s passion for powerful cars should lead to a change in nicknames from “The Eagle” to “Fast Eddie.”


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