Valk on air and lovin' it

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:17 AM ET

Leaf teammates used to rib Garry Valk about his lengthy analytical answers to reporters' questions, but the retired winger now is gainfully employed in Vancouver's competitive electronic media.

"I'm working Canucks' pay-per-view games, Sportsnet and for a radio station," Valk said yesterday morning at GM Place. "What kick-started this part of my career was the NHL's Life After Hockey program. I went to Hamden, Conn., to Quinnipiac University to study (broadcasting).

"As an NHL player, you have to find a passion for something. And that's where a lot of (ex-players) have trouble, because they can't find that passion. They live their lives and they're not happy."

Valk, a B.C. native, played for five NHL teams in a 13-year career and retired after the 2002-03 season.

"I tore my groin really badly in Toronto, an eight centimetre tear," said Valk, who scored a memorable playoff goal in 1999, eliminating the Pittsburgh Penguins to send the Leafs to the 1999 Eastern Conference championship. "When I lost my (skating) legs, I lost my game.

"You do whatever you can when you get that crack at going to the Cup final and then you pay the price the next year. Towards the end of my career, I had definitely paid the price. But I have no regrets and I don't miss the pain. Now I'm here doing something I love."

BELAK'S BROTHER JOINS BLAZE

The Coventry Blaze, which Wade Belak helped lead to the British League title in the lockout year, have recruited his younger brother Graham this season. Graham was a high draft pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 1997, but never made it beyond the American Hockey League.

"He was tired of slugging it out in the minors, knew he wouldn't make the NHL and he wanted to go to school over there," Belak said yesterday. "The Coventry coach asked me about him and Graham jumped at the chance. He gets to go to Europe, plays just two games a week and has just three practices."

Belak confirmed the story that troubled ex-NHLer Theo Fleury recently left the Belfast Giants after being overwhelmed by Coventry fans taunting him about his past while he sat in the penalty box.

"The team owner called him a cab and he left halfway through the game," Belak said.


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