Bell's run-in with the law
Through four seasons in the OHL, one in the AHL and another four in the NHL, Mark Bell has established himself as a fan favourite — a player whose gritty, hard-working style makes him easy to cheer for.
Never known as a bad boy, Bell nonetheless will earn the moniker now, given his arrest over the long weekend on suspicion of drunk driving and felony hit-and-run.
Bell arrived with the San Jose Sharks in a three-way deal a little less than two months ago, and you can imagine this isn't the first impression he had in mind for his new team. Facing felony charges is serious business, and while the resulting injuries were not as grave in this case, we've already been hearing the 'Dany Heatley' whispers. (This despite the fact authorities ruled alcohol was not a factor in Heatley's October, 2003, accident that killed teammate Dan Snyder.)
Drinking and driving incidents and hockey are, unfortunately becoming interminably linked, and someone, at some point, is going to have to suffer more than a slap on the wrist.
Similar cases that immediately come to mind are Steve Chiasson, Sandis Ozolinsh, Serge Savard, Ken Daneyko, Dale Hunter, Peter Worrell, Alexei Zhamnov, Rob Ramage and Kevin Dineen — and that just what I can come up with from the last half dozen years or so.
Historically, Pelle Lindbergh's death will always be remembered as hockey's most cautionary tale.
There's a problem here, and it's one that's never really been addressed.
A brief look at Bell, who might be a little unknown to casual fans:
A first-round pick in 1998 (8th overall), Bell is 26 years old and has yet to post more than 50 points in a season. With a spot earmarked on the Sharks top line for the coming season, however, posting career numbers was — and likely still is — a distinct possibility.
Like so many youngsters in the NHL, Bell's from a tiny Canadian town and a working-class background. He grew up on farmland in Saint Paul's, Ontario — population, 40 — and his father works as the manager of a cement factory in nearby Kitchener.
Last season, Bell was named the Chicago Blackhawks "Man of the Year," an honoured earned for his charity work and community service.
On the ice, he's a tough kid, as evidenced by his victory in a fight with noted heavyweight Josh Gratton last season, and projects as a power-forward type with leadership abilities.