If the name Mark Bell rings a bell, it might not be for hockey.
Bell, who signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Ducks, has not played in the NHL since 2007-08. The 30-year-old forward has played seven NHL seasons with Chicago (2000-06), San Jose (2006-07) and Toronto (2007-08), collecting 87 goals and 182 points with 597 penalty minutes in 445 career games.
He is better known for the poor timing and circumstance of a 2007 DUI conviction, which resulted in an unprecedented 15-game suspension from the NHL. Not only was Bell playing in the media spotlight of Toronto at the time, he committed his crime in the wake of the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal, which led one Toronto columnist to pontificate:
… if you’re a person who believes driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated is a terrible scourge on modern society that deserves the most severe penalties – and what thinking person doesn’t? – then you must applaud the NHL for taking a strong stand in the same way NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is being heralded as a no-nonsense sheriff for his handling of cases involving Michael Vick and Pacman Jones and others.
Bell served his suspension, played out the season in Toronto, then was waived by the Leafs the following year. He finished the 2008-09 season with the Rangers’ American Hockey League affiliate, scoring 14 points in 18 games. Bell tried out with the Philadelphia Flyers in training camp in 2009, then signed with Kloten of the Swiss National ‘A’ League.
Bell’s contract pays $575,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the AHL. It’s unreasonable to expect him to return to his former 25-goal form after two seasons in Switzerland — the same questions were asked and answered two years ago in Philadelphia –but it will be interesting to see how his return to North America plays out regardless.