March 27, 2014

Joe Bell

Joe Bell was certainly not the best known former NHLer. He played 47 games with the New York Rangers over two seasons - 1942-43 and 1946-47. His enrollment in the Canadian armed forces during World War II interrupt a promising NHL career.

Joe Bell passed away in 2014 at the age of 90 at his home in Seattle, Washington.

Bell lived most of his post-hockey life in Seattle, but it was in Manitoba where he was a hockey legend. The Portage La Prairie-born Bell is a member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame, where he is enshrined beside his brother Gordie and father Addie.

Bell led the MJHL in goals in 1942 as the Portage La Prairie Terriers not only won the provincial championship, but also Memorial Cup as Canada's national junior championships. Coached by father Addie, the Terriers defeated the Oshawa Generals in four games in Winnipeg. Gordie was in net while Joe led the team both in terms of offense and courage. He overcame a hospitalized bout with the flu-turned-bladder infection to win the Memorial Cup.

Bell's career was ready to take off and he immediately joined the Rangers for 15 games of the 1942-43 season. The Rangers roster was ravaged by players summoned to World War II, and soon enough Bell was called too. He went to work for the Canadian navy, serving on the HMCS Barrie and HMCS Kapuskasing, escorting convoys across the North Atlantic from St. John's, Newfoundland to Derry, Northern Ireland.

Bell returned to hockey duty in 1945-46 and apprenticed in the AHL with New Haven-Hershey, leading the entire league in goals with an impressive 46. That led to a return to the Rangers for the 1946-47 season. He played most of the season in New York - 47 games - but played sparingly. He scored 6 goals and 10 points.

That was the last of his NHL playing days, but Bell continued to play in minor league cities such as Buffalo, Louisville, Dallas and Seattle, where he was a notable star. He would remain in Seattle until his death in 2014. He would return to Canada often to hunt, and he also was a very good golfer.

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