Belisle Follows Father Into Business

By Cleve Dheensaw
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2005

VICTORIA, British Columbia – Dan Belisle Sr. was asked to hold his hand higher so his 2002 Stanley Cup ring — one of three he possess after helping build the Detroit Red Wings of the 1990s and early 2000s — would show more prominently in the photo for this story.

But this wasn’t about the ring, he said. It was about a father and son.

That son, Dan Belisle Jr. (pictured), is the general manager and vice president of hockey operations for the Victoria Salmon Kings of the ECHL. If he has a fraction of the success his father did as the Red Wings head pro scout for 17 years, fans of the S-Kings would be elated.

Belisle Jr. already has an ECHL Kelly Cup championship ring, from the 2003 Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, and in his second season with the Salmon Kings is the man charged with turning the fortunes of the Vancouver Canucks’ ECHL affiliate.

Belisle Sr. returned to Blanshard Street for the first time since he scored 23 goals and 47 points for the Victoria Maple Leafs in the 1964-65 season at the old Memorial Arena in a much-traveled minor-pro playing career that included other stops in the old WHL with the Vancouver Canucks, Los Angeles Blades and San Francisco Seals.

“I grew up in this business and we moved around a lot,” said Belisle Jr., of a lifetime spent in hockey rinks big and small with his dad.

“Deep down I knew I wanted to get into the business, but I didn’t get around to telling my dad [until later].”

That’s because this wasn’t the career path Belisle Sr. pushed his son toward, although he was accepting of it once the inevitable came to pass.

“I wasn’t sure if I wanted him in the business — I know how tough it can be — but I could see this is what he really wanted to do,” said Belisle Sr.

The elder Belisle is still close to former Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman, with whom he shares Stanley Cup rings from 1997, 1998 and 2002.

“We drafted Steve Yzerman in 1983 and everything turned around after that,” said the now-retired Belisle Sr.

If it were only that easy for Belisle Jr., who is required to not only produce victories at the ECHL level in Victoria but also develop young talent for the Canucks’ AHL affiliate Manitoba Moose.

Any advice from father to son?

“I give him tidbits here and there,” smiled Belisle Sr.

“The biggest thing is to look for players who are dedicated, work hard and have a real passion for the game.”

Father and son left Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre happy Saturday evening following the Salmon Kings’ first victory of the season, a crisply-executed 7-3 dissection of the previously undefeated Dallas Stars’ affiliate Idaho Steelheads.

Belisle Sr. remembers well the building in which he played on this site and which SOFMC replaced. “It rained a lot that [1964-65 Victoria Maple Leafs] season,” chuckled Belisle Sr.

“You could walk around this town in 12 minutes back then. Now I can get lost. It was quite a shock to see how this city has grown. I don’t recognize it. It’s grown into quite something.”

And now it’s on the son’s shoulders to grow the city’s pro hockey team into something of note.

© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2006