NEW YORK -- Wade Belak stays in the Maple Leafs lineup every night for his brawn, his forechecking and his ability to play defence, if required.
What he's not employed to do is to score, which has become painfully evident to the 30-year-old since Dec. 20, 2003. With another no-show on the scoresheet last night against the Rangers, Belak moved past Aki Berg into third place on the longest active streak of Leafs without a goal.
Belak now has been blanked 117 games, trailing only Jamie Macoun (147) and Bob McGill (198) according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the three confirmed Toronto "record holders" in this off-beat category.
"Yeah, it sucks seeing that goose egg beside your name every game," Belak said. "My wife got on my case a few weeks ago when the number got up to 100.
"What can I say? I think I scored one as soon as I came to the Leafs (on waivers from the Calgary Flames in 2001) and one year here I had three and (one in playoffs).
"How about the seven I scored in England during the lockout (helping the Coventry Blaze to a league title)? Maybe we could make them count with (an asterisk in the NHL guide)."
Both McGill and Macoun were Leafs defencemen in the 1980s and '90s respectfully. McGill, a junior coach and now an analyst for Leafs TV, tallied just 17 NHL goals for Toronto, Chicago, Tampa, the Islanders, Red Wings and Sharks in 705 games. Ex-coach Mike Keenan once joked "Bob's hockey stick is not the most advanced weapon in our arsenal".
A couple weeks ago, on Jan. 20 against Pittsburgh, it looked like Belak would end his slump when coach Paul Maurice threw up his hands late in an 8-2 blowout loss. Belak went on a power play camp-out in front of the net, but the lucky goal went to rookie Brendan Bell, his first in the league, on a fluke deflection.
"I was trying, but why can't something hit my ass and go in?," Belak said with a chuckle.