On Monday, Nov. 14, four great players will enter the Hockey Hall of Fame: Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe, Joe Nieuwendyk and Eddie “The Eagle” Belfour.
The following selection, speaking about Belfour, is an excerpt from 100 Things Every Blackhawks Fan Should Know & Do Before They Die.
Considering not a single team was willing to draft him, Ed Belfour wasted no time proving everyone wrong. Once he returned from the world tour, the desperate Blackhawks recalled Belfour for the 1990 playoffs. To say Belfour was impressive would be underselling his performance in the 1990 postseason; he went 4-2 with a 2.49 goals against average and figured to have the inside track to be the starter the following season.
And yet, when training camp opened for the 1990-91 season, there were seven goalies fighting for a spot with the Blackhawks.
Despite the organization favoring Jimmy Waite for the job and another young goalie making a strong impression – Dominik Hašek – Belfour would again win the starting job and force doubters to respect him. The 1990-91 campaign turned in by Belfour remains one of the most epic rookie seasons in the history of the NHL.
He led a Blackhawks team that was evolving into a young, fast team into the postseason with an NHL rookie record 43 wins in 74 games, and posted a strong 2.47 goals against average. Belfour nearly swept the NHL‘s postseason awards that year.
In an astounding turn of event, the unorthodox Belfour was suddenly the toast of the NHL. He won the Calder Memorial Trophy, the Vezina Trophy, and the William M. Jennings Trophy. Belfour was also nominated for the Hart Memorial Trophy, but would lose to Brett Hull.
The following season the Blackhawks made a run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals, only to be swept by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Even though Belfour had been so strong the year before, Hašek was pressing him for playing time; in only 20 games, Hašek played well enough to earn All-Rookie honors.
Because he was the starter, and had played well enough to have a strong bargaining position, Belfour demanded respect from the organization. In August, the Hawks traded Hašek to Buffalo.
Belfour continued to earn the respect of his peers, winning the Vezina Trophy for a second time after the 1992-93 season. He won the Vezina for a third time in 1995, but at that point the relationship between the front office and Belfour was becoming contentious.
For more about Belfour’s career, and Blackhawks history, buy the book!