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February 06, 2016

Shawn Belle

Shawn Belle's father Jim came to Canada from his native Barbados when he was sixteen years old. He originally lived in Montreal before settling in Edmonton, establishing a blind cleaning business with his wife Ingrid. Shawn was born in 1985, and would be the couple's only child.

While Dad may have been only a few years removed from Barbados, his son would be as Canadian as could be. He fell in love with hockey and the Edmonton Oilers.

Though hockey may have been as foreign to him as Canadian winter storms, Jim was able to keep his work schedule flexible so that he could devote his life to his son's aspiring hockey dream. They made great sacrifices so that Shawn could attend hockey camps and schools and try out.

The sacrifices paid off as Shawn Belle became an intriguing prospect.

Belle was especially strong defensively at the 2005 World Junior Hockey Championships as part of Canada's medal winning team. It was his second consecutive under-20 world championship, preceded by two under-18 world titles. He also had his strongest of four junior seasons in Tri Cities of the Western Hockey League.

At six foot one and 220 pounds, Belle was brawny and strong. Like most junior defensemen, his overall game needed polish, though often experience teaches the patience and decision making needed to make the jump to the next level. Other than his heavy though wild shot, Belle rarely threatened the opposition offensively.

But scouts loved his imposing size and strength, but loved his skating ability even more so. He was a natural thoroughbred skater, blessed with speed and acceleration. His lateral agility was above average as well.

The St. Louis Blues had made Shawn Belle a first round pick (30th overall) in 2003, and were happy with his progression. But they knew he would some refining and experience in the minor leagues, and the decided to move him in exchange for some goaltending depth. They traded Belle to Dallas in exchange Belle for Jason Bacashihua.

For the Stars it was tough to pass on a defenseman with his skating ability and size, but they knew he was still a project and would need time in the minor leagues.  He would spend the majority of the next three seasons playing in the minor leagues, but his game stagnated to the point where his NHL future would be as a depth defenseman at best.

Having never played for the Stars, Dallas traded Shawn Belle along with Martin Skoula to Minnesota in exchange for Willie Mitchell and a draft choice.

Belle would only play nine games for the Wild before being traded to Montreal. He would move quickly to Colorado and Edmonton, the disappeared to Europe after six pro seasons and 20 NHL games (one career assist).

The Edmonton native returned to the Alberta capital city after retirement and began coaching in the Alberta Junior Hockey League.

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