We are sad to announce the passing of a 24-year hockey legend

Published December 1, 2022 at 0:05

Us here at Blackhawks nation are sending our condolences and prayers to a fallen hockey players family.

A close connection to us, by the name of Scoop Cooper has granted us at Blackhawks Nation permission to use his biography on his good friend that has sadly passed, let's take a look at it below..

Scoop Cooper, former NHL broadcaster stated the following..



So sorry to learn of the passing of my old buddy Dan «Pinner» Belisle on Monday at 85. A true hockey «lifer» I knew Danny first when he was coach of the old Syracuse Blazers in the NAHL (1975-77) and then of the AHL Philadelphia Firebirds (1977-78). He also coached the NHL Washington Capitals for just over a season (1978-79) and finished his coaching career as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings (1982-87) which he later served as a pro scout getting his name on the Stanley Crp three times.

A native of South Porcupine, OT, after playing junior with the OHA Guelph Baltimores (1955-57), Dan had a 14-year playing career from 1957 to 1971 with as many minor league clubs — 14 — in the AHL, WHL, QHL, CPHL and IHL from coast to coast in the USA and Canada. His only cup of coffee in the NHL as a player came in 1960-61 in just four games with the New York Rangers — but he did notch a pair of goals in that single call up to the bigs!

I got to know Pinner pretty well during his coaching years and still saw from time to time after that when he was scouting for the Red Wings. Danny was quite a character — real «Old Time Hockey» with a wickedly dry (and sometime biting) sense of humor.

One of the «highlights» of Pinner's career actually came «in the movies» when he was a hockey playing extra in the 1976 classic hockey comedy film «SLAP SHOT» as a member of the Syracuse Bulldogs. In order to make sure that he would be seen he arranged to be Paul Newman's fighting partner in the massive on ice brawl at the end of the film. (See screenshot in comments.)

During his days with Detroit his closest friend and colleague in the game was Scotty Bowman with the two men often spending hours of the phone each day.

RIP «Pinner» and enjoy spending your new eternity with all those other great «hockey lifers» like yourself who populate hockey heaven like John Brophy, «Fred» Perry, John Muckler, Frank Mathers, Tommy Lockhart and so many more.


Here is a piece that I wrote about Dan Belisle 14 years ago in 2008. He got word back to me that he enjoyed it very much!!


Hockey, as are other pro sports, is replete with both colorful characters and funny stories associated with them, so from time to time I will be selecting some from the literally thousands of hockey people that I have known over the past four decades in the NHL and minor leagues. For me, one of my favorite of these hockey characters is Danny Belisle, a long time minor league right wing and later coach and scout in both the minors and the NHL. I first met Danny in 1976 when I was the PR man for the defending Lockhart Cup champion NAHL Philadelphia Firebirds and Dan was coaching the Syracuse Blazers which he would guide to the 1977 Lockhart Cup title.

Danny Belisle was born in 1937 in the colorfully named town of South Porcupine, Ontario, a small mining community near Lake Porcupine and the city of Timmins in the northeastern part of the Province. A 5'10", 160 pound right winger, he was scouted and signed by the New York Rangers as an eighteen year old in 1955 and was assigned to the OHA Guelph Biltmores (where he played with Eddie "The Entertainer" Shack) in 1956-57 and then the QHL Trois Rivieres Lions in 1957-58 where he was that club's leading scorer as he finished out his junior career.

After his first two pro seasons spent with the WHL Vancouver Canucks where he was a teammate of Ted Hampson, Orland Kurtenbach, and Larry Cahan, the Rangers assigned Belisle to the EPHL Kitchener-Waterloo Beavers in 1960-61 where he played with Don "Grapes" Cherry and 1960 US Olympic Gold Medal winning goalie Jack McCartan. It was also during this season that the then 23-year old right winger finally got his shot at the NHL when he was called up to the Rangers and made his NHL debut at Madison Square Garden just four days before Christmas against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Belisle was assigned jersey number 19 that night -- the Rangers' then designated "call up" sweater -- which would also be worn that season by no fewer than four other players: Wayne Hall, Larry Popein, Len Ronson, and Jean Ratelle. (Ratelle would eventually make the number his own, however, for 927 regular season and play-off games in New York until he was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1976).

On New Years' Eve, Belisle would play his fourth NHL game at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto for the woeful Blueshirts (10-19-5) -- a 2-1 loss -- before boarding an overnight train back to New York for a return meeting with the Leafs on New Years' Day. Belisle had already scored a pair of goals in his brief NHL career -- pretty good for a rookie call up in those much lower scoring days -- as he headed from his hotel to Madison Square Garden for what he expected to be his fifth game. As he arrived, however, Belisle was buttonholed by Rangers' coach Alf "The Embalmer" Pike who had won a Stanley Cup with the Rangers twenty years earlier as a rookie player in 1940. (Pike garnered his "colorful" nickname because he was a licensed mortician.)

"You're probably not playing tonight, Belisle," Pike said, "but you can take the warmup and I'll let you know later."

Belisle was no doubt disappointed as he went to the lockeroom to put on his equipment, and just as he finished dressing Pike stuck his head in the door at told Belisle to take it all off because he was not playing afterall. So off came the jersey, pads, pants and skates and back on his suit and tie.

Just as he knotted his tie, however, Pike was back again to tell Belisle he might be playing afterall so to get half dressed and he would let him know just before the team went out for warmup.

"OK, coach," he said, "I'll do just exactly what you say."

A few minutes before the warmup Pike returned and found 23- year old rookie right wing had followed his instructions "to the letter." Belisle was sitting in his locker with skates on and tied and wearing his shin pads, socks, and hockey pants. From the waist up, however, he was wearing a dress shirt, tie, suit jacket, and fedora.

"I'm half dressed, coach, and ready to go either way," he said grinning.

The coach was not amused, and needless to say Belisle did not skate that night for the Rangers against the Leafs -- a game which the Blueshirts lost 4-1 for the club's 21st defeat in just 36 games. Belisle was soon on his way back to the minors rejoining the WHL Vancouver Canucks where he would score 30 goals in just 51 games over the rest of the season. Although Belisle would play another ten years of pro hockey before retiring in 1971 to go into coaching, however, he also never skated another shift in the NHL!

After another thirty-goal season with the Los Angeles Blades in 1961-62, the Rangers traded Belisle's WHL rights to that club's biggest rival, the San Francisco Seals, for Bob Solinger (but retained his NHL recall rights). With 70 points (29-41) in 63 games and another fifteen points (8-7) in 17 playoff contests, Belisle helped lead the Seals to a Lester Patrick Cup title in 1962-63.

His "reward" for this was a promotion to the Rangers' top farm club, the AHL Baltimore Clippers, the next year. A call up to the Rangers would have certainly been welcomed by the by now 26-year old high scoring six year veteran pro who had just won a play-off title, but Baltimore, Maryland hardly had the appeal of San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Vancouver -- the three West coast cities in which he had been playing for most of that time.

After thirteen games he had just one goal the two assists -- far below his production numbers in the WHL -- and thus was spending more and more time sitting on the end of the bench. To make the point that he would just as soon not be in Baltimore, Belisle thus had to come up with a plan. While sitting in his now accustomed spot at the end of the bench he hailed a hot dog vendor in the stands, so the story goes, and secured one of his tasty morsels. When player/coach Aldo Guidolin spied Belisle munching contentedly the hot dog, he decided that it was probably time to give him what he wanted and send him on his way!

Belisle was moved on briefly to the AHL Quebec Aces and CPHL Omaha Knights before the Rangers loaned him to the Victoria (BC) Maple Leafs back in the WHL in mid-December where he spent the rest of the 1964-65 season. The following June he then left the Rangers' organization when he was claimed in the reverse draft by Detroit.

Over the next six seasons Belisle would play for six different teams in four leagues -- Memphis Wings (CPHL), San Francisco Seals (WHL), Vancouver Canucks (WHL), Jacksonville Rockets (EHL), Columbus Checkers (IHL), and Des Moines Oak Leafs (IHL) before retiring as a player after the 1970-71 season. Belisle began his coaching career in Des Moines the following season and moved on to the NAHL Syracuse Blazers in 1975.

Belisle spent part of the summer following his first season coaching in Syracuse in another NAHL town -- Johnstown, PA -- where the Paul Newman movie "SLAP SHOT" was being filmed. The final big scene in the iconic film is a championship game between the "Charlestown Chiefs" (patterned after the Johnstown Jets) and the hated "Syracuse Bulldogs" (patterned after the Beauce Jaros) lead by Tim "Capt. Hook" McCracken. Belisle portrayed one of the players on the Syracuse team, and although he did not have a speaking role he made the most of the opportunity by volunteering to be the Syracuse player to fight Paul Newman in the big fight that ended the game.

Belisle returned to coach the Blazers again for the 1976-77 season and led the club to the NAHL's play-off title -- the Lockhart Cup. Unfortunately the league folded over the following summer leaving Belisle both without a job and being owned some money by the team. With both the league and the Blazers out of business -- but the Cup still in his possession -- Belisle decided to keep the trophy which now rests in his home in Florida were, it is said, that it often serves as a very nice planter!

Belisle was not out of work for long as he joined the Philadelphia Firebirds the next season which (along with the Binghamton Dusters) was one of the two NAHL teams to join the AHL in 1977-78. Belisle finally returned to the NHL in 1978 -- more than a decade and a half after his four game playing career in the circuit -- as coach of the woeful Washington Capitals but was fired sixteen games into his second season with the club after a 4-10-2 start in 1979-80.

After coaching the CHL Dallas Blackhawks for two seasons (1980-82) he spent five seasons as an assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings (1982-87) before finishing his career in the game as a pro scout with the Wings over much of the next fifteen years.

While Dan Belisle now lives in retirement in Florida, his son, Dan, Jr, carries on the family tradition as Vice-President of Hockey Operations of the Victoria (BC) Salmon Kings of the ECHL. Like his father, young Belisle also appeared in SLAP SHOT (as the Chiefs' stickboy at a road game who says of Ogie Ogilthorpe that "He's not playing, he's suspended."), is now in his 24th season working in hockey management.

And so here's to Danny Belisle, the "half dressed" NY Ranger -- and indeed one of my favorite colorful characters in our glorious game!
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