|Wade Belak may deserve a crack at his own show on Comedy Central when he skates off the ice for the final time.|
“Hey Blakey,” Belak quipped, his head turned left, peering back at his teammate as they were en route to the team bus, “we’re getting ready to do an ‘E! True Hollywood Story’ here.”
Belak isn’t quite at that celebrity level yet, but he may deserve a crack at his own show on Comedy Central when he skates off the ice for the final time. What the Maple Leafs’ 6-foot-5, 220-pound enforcer lacks in goals he thoroughly makes up for in laughs.
“He pretty much entertains us in here,” Toronto center Alex Steen said. “We have a good time with Wade.”
No one, though, has as much fun as Belak.
For instance, just two days after his third-period goal against Nashville on Dec. 4 snapped a 143-game scoreless streak – which dated back to before the lockout – Belak still was getting laughs while discussing the most talked about goal in Canada.
”I think the trainers are getting my stick bronzed as we speak,” said Belak, who the day before held his own stand-up act for local reporters in front of his locker at the Leafs’ practice facility. “I think it’s going to the Hockey Hall of Fame.”
When asked if he remembers where he scored his previous goal, Belak replied, “My last professional goal was in England during the lockout. You can count that. It’s pro hockey.”
Of the great relationships he’s forged with all of his teammates, who appreciate his physical play on the ice and his comedy in the locker room, Belak cracked, “I think I’m feeding off of them. I don’t know if they’re feeding off me. There’s not much on my plate to feed off of.”
Just think what this guy could do with one of those half-hour Comedy Central Presents specials.
“I’m just a happy guy,” Belak said.
He does have a sensitive side, too. Belak said he genuinely was touched by the reaction his goal received from not only his teammates, who celebrated like a group of kids in a school yard, but all the fans at Air Canada Centre.
“It was pretty surreal that the fans made such a big deal about it,” Belak said. “We have guys on this team that score pretty much every other game and it doesn’t get that much hype. At the same time, that’s their job, and when a guy who doesn’t score a lot of goals or is not expected to score a goal gets one, everybody is happy for him.
“I had my 15 minutes of glory. Now we can move on and work on No. 2.”
Leafs coach Paul Maurice isn’t calling Belak’s number for any power-play time, so any chances he does get will be at even strength.
There’s one problem: Belak doesn’t even average four minutes of ice time per game. In fact, of the players who have played in at least 10 games this season, only Minnesota left wing Derek Boogaard, Ottawa right wing Brian McGrattan, Buffalo left wing Andrew Peters, Colorado right wing Scott Parker and Philadelphia left wing Riley Cote average less time on ice per game. Yet, nobody in the Leafs dressing room has ever heard Belak complain, even when he was a healthy scratch for nine straight games from Nov. 6-24.
“When he’s in the lineup his presence is definitely felt because if someone does take a run at Mats (Sundin) or one of the top guys, he’s right there. He brings that comfort level,” said Leafs right wing Matt Stajan. “And when he’s not out there he’s in the room supporting us, congratulating every single guy when we do win. You need that. That’s a good teammate right there. He makes the rink a fun place to come to every day.”
|Part of why Wade Belak is so easygoing and loose is he understands his place not only in the Leafs’ locker room, but the entire hockey community.|
Stajan probably has been entertained by Belak more than any other Leaf. They were road roommates last season, but when pressed for some dirt, Stajan was at a loss.
“There are some stories,” he said, “but I really don’t know what story to start with.”
Part of why Belak is so easygoing and loose is he understands his place not only in the Leafs’ locker room, but the entire hockey community.
Despite being a former first-round draft pick of the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, he never has confused himself with Sundin, but he certainly appreciates the opportunity to play in the same League as his future Hall of Fame teammate.
“You still have to consider yourself a kid, going to the rink every day and hanging out with the boys,” Belak said. “I like having fun. Life is too short, or too long, I don’t know. Than you’re old, hockey’s gone and you’re wondering what you’re doing next.”
Comedy Central, Wade. Comedy Central.
Stand-up may be his calling after all. We already know it’s not goal scoring.
Contact Dan Rosen at firstname.lastname@example.org.