• By: Dave Gross

Bell Doesn’t Toll on Brendan’s Long Days

As portfolios go, this one is a whopper.

Welcome to the full-plate life of former Ottawa 67 and former Ottawa Senator Brendan Bell.

Three jobs; three kids (ages 5-4-2) and the last 15 years spent travelling through North America and Europe chasing down the hockey dream -there is no slow-down or pause-button in Bell’s game or life.

So let’s run it down for you.

Since retiring, Bell’s entered the field of financial planning (estate and tax), opened a gym (Fitness Lab, with partner Adam Bracken) in Manotick, and in his latest venture to maintain his high octane level of ‘on-the-go,’ entered the field of broadcasting.

Like he doesn’t have enough to do, Brendan has joined TSN 1200 as a co-host on its Senators broadcasts.

“I am really enjoying it. I like being around the rink and the people. That was the idea, to kind of do it as a moonlighting thing and stay involved (with hockey),” said Bell.

If you’ve been listening, quickly you have realized he’s a natural. Well-spoken, analytical – with a dash of humour thrown in – Bell hits the mark.

No one is surprised. The Ottawa native showcased the gift early.

“When he was with the 67’s and that was that, 15 years ago? And there’s this kid and he’s the captain and being interviewed on the station ever week and I thought he was really well-spoken for a teenager. Incredibly well-spoken and smart and you knew right then that even at the age of 19, boy, this kid’s got a future in broadcasting,” said TSN 1200 program director John Rodenburg (JR).

Ironically enough, the program Bell appeared on – as team representative of the 67’s, on a weekly basis – was co-hosted by former NHLer Garry Galley.

Galley landed his start as a broadcaster that same year; just months after retiring from a 17-year career in the NHL. He has since charged forward and is widely considered one of the top in-game analysts in hockey, plying his trade for CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada.

“Garry is equal parts knowledge and enthusiasm, where I think Brendan’s equal parts knowledge and maybe more of a thinker,” offered JR.

“Even the way they played – Garry was an enthusiastic player and Brendan was more of a thinking hockey player. They’re different but both are tremendous broadcasters.”

Bell counts himself as a fan of Galley’s work.

“Garry’s done very, very well. He’s a smart guy and he’s affable and he’s talkative and he’s everything you want in a broadcaster. The thing with Garry is he loves, loves the game.”

TSN reached out to Bell about a year ago when he decided to retire after a short stint in Austria.

“What’s not to like, wow,” said JR. “First thing I like about him is he’s just fresh out of the game. He’s a young guy and thinks about the game from the perspective of a player that’s just left the game.”

“That’s great to hear,” Bell said with a chuckle. “I guess when your boss says you’re doing well that’s always good. I was always very aware that that was a possibility and had friends in the media that I talked to that said – ‘when you’re done (with hockey), give us a call, look us up.’ For now I am happy to be at my home base. I have travelled so much the last 13 years that I’m just happy to in Ottawa for the next while.”

Bell, 33, paused when asked if the media angle was something he would want to pursue full-time.

“At this point it’s not really a career objective . . .  I am really happy with where my career is post-hockey. With the financial planning I am very busy during the day, and with the gym I have enough stuff to keep me busy outside of that. You know, there’s only so many hours . . .  I am even helping out with the coaching a bit with Carleton and try and get involved with the 67’s, you know, try and help out with the young players. Unless they lengthen days, I don’t know if there’s enough time.”

At least he’s sure about where he has landed . . . In familiar territory.

Bell spent his novice-through-bantam years with the Ottawa West Golden Knights’ program, then played one year with the CJHL’s Ottawa Jr. Senators.

The 67’s then drafted him and he played four seasons (the last as captain) with Brian Kilrea’s team before moving on to pro. After three years in the American Hockey League (St. John’s and Toronto Marlies), Bell sniffed the NHL for the first time. First with the Maple Leafs, then Phoenix and the Senators and New York Rangers.

After extensive periods then skating in Europe, Bell said it was time to go home.

Docked now in Ottawa with his young family, he admitted he’s happy with all the opportunities he’s enjoying.

And if he ever considered doing that “Galley-thing” full-time, he’s gained at least a few supporters.

“Sky is probably the limit,” said JR. “It doesn’t hurt the fact that he’s got a history in Toronto as well. If he ever decided to take this (broadcasting) to the next level . . . the sky is the limit. If you asked me whether he could co-host a show on here, absolutely.”