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Love of the game still there for Belfour, inductees

by Corey Masisak
TORONTO -- When someone from the Hockey Hall of Fame called Ed Belfour to tell him he would be part of the Class of 2011, he didn’t answer because he was asleep.

Belfour was taking an afternoon nap, because he had a men's league game in Frisco, Texas, that night.

"I still wish I was playing. That is my release to get back into the game and still be involved," Belfour said. "I play sometimes two or three times a week in a men's league, and I play on two, three different teams. I really enjoy it and I love the game. It is a little different playing out because I don't have to warm up as much."

He doesn't play in net, but Belfour continues to play the sport he loves. Joe Nieuwenduyk also plays, but not quite as regularly as Belfour. Other Class of 2011 members Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe have not been playing hockey of late, but they were all on the ice Sunday at Air Canada Centre for the Legends of Hockey game.

Howe is a scout for the Detroit Red Wings, so he's in hockey rinks all the time. He just hadn't been skating in them.

"Very little because of my back," Howe said. "When we played yesterday and up until two weeks ago, I had not skated in five-and-a-years. My youngest son Nolan works out of a rink near Princeton, N.J., so I went over there and skated with him for three days just so I could hopefully get around the rink a little more.

"I wish I could skate more. I still have fun, but a lot of times it is the aches and the pains and when your feet and your legs start going numb on you, it is time to call it quits."

That said, Howe is going to pull on a sweater again soon. He played 10 seasons for the Philadelphia Flyers, and he will be on the ice against the New York Rangers in early January at Citizens Bank Park.

"I'm going to try and gut it out in the Winter Classic alumni game, and I'll pay for it dearly but I'm looking forward to it," Howe said. "I think the fun of that will overtake the pain and agony that I'm probably going to have for a month after."

Gilmour also hasn't played much hockey recently, but he is the general manager of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.

"That was my first game in two years, and believe me I could tell," Gilmour said.

Nieuwendyk is the GM of the Dallas Stars, and still plays every now and then with some of his former teammates and other former players from the organization.

"I do [play] -- we've kind of formed a little bit of an alumni out in Dallas now, which I think is important for the long-term growth of the game in Dallas," Nieuwendyk said. "Now we have Mike Modano coming back to us, which is going to be huge. We get together once in a while and lace 'em up and it is fun."

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