When the islanders designed Kieffer Bellows with the 19th selection in 2016, his father, the former NHL player Brian Bellows, had one thing to say.
"The first thing he said to me after the hug was" Work is starting now, "said the 21-year-old rookie to The Post after his NHL debut Tuesday night at the Barclays Center in a 4-3 win over the Stars.
The older Bellows, who finished second overall in 1982 in the NHL draft of the Minnesota North Stars (forerunner of the Dallas Stars) and had a 17-year hockey career, spoke from experience. And before he even watched his son register his first NHL point, which acted as a second assistant in the second phase of Derick Brassard's game, Brian said he knew his son was ready.
Kieffer played a little over nine minutes of ice age in 13 shifts while playing in the third row with Brassard and Michael Dal Colle. His support – which he only noticed after the game – reached the 13:38 mark of the second section. After helping to force sales, he put the puck into the zone.
"I liked his game," said Islanders coach Barry Despite after the win. “Kieffer had a little pace. He moved his feet, he really has a good consciousness away from the puck. One thing I forgot about him is that he has this hockey strength in a confined space. He has a good leverage, he can win these little puck battles. He is not on the stick for long, reaches for him and tries to dig him up. He dives and uses levers. He will be productive in the process.
"First game, I would be very happy if I were him. He didn't look out of place, he looked like he was one of them."
Kieffer led the Islanders' AHL branch, Bridgeport Sound Tigers, with 16 goals and 24 points when he received his call to join the big club on Monday. And since the squad decision should be made within three weeks (or not), general manager Lou Lamoriello probably wanted to take a good look at Bellows, whom he once described as one of the organization's “A” perspectives. "
Brian Bellows said he instilled in his son a message he thought was important, which allowed him to see his development as an ice hockey player differently than he could have done without his father's advice.
"Of course, you won't be moved to the front row because you are a first choice or because your last name is Bellows," 55-year-old Brian The Post said as the game was being prepared. "You have to earn it."
Brian, who won the Stanley Cup champions in 1993, said his son was fully interested in this message at the end of last season. He said he felt that Kieffer had stopped putting so much pressure on himself at the end of his first season in the AHL and could start a different job this year.
The islanders were just one point ahead of Tuesday's playoff cutoff, and Despite has repeatedly said there is no room for error. The offensive has needed a boost for a few weeks now and the islanders believe that the 21-year-old Bellows' scoring ability can give the necessary jerk.
A secondary assistant in the first 40 minutes of his first NHL game isn't a bad start.