Mark Bell: What Will Happen to the Toronto Maple Leafs' Troubled Forward?

Shane HouseAnalyst IAugust 22, 2008

Over the past couple years, Mark Bell has been a bust to say the least, but, with all the allegations swirling around him, how can you really be suprised?

After signing a contract with the Sharks for the 2006-07 season, people thought that it would be his breakout year, being able to play on a line with Jonathan Cheechoo and Joe Thornton, he'd hit the 70-point plateau and finally become a top-teir NHLer, but, sadly, things didn't workout for him after two weeks with the club, as he rear-ended somebody while drunk and sped from the scene.

Later on that night, he was apprehended and taken to jail for further questioning. While spending the whole year going to court dates, you could tell his game was affected after only getting 21 points throughout the whole season.

After a dismal year with the Sharks, he was traded during the draft to the Toronto Maple Leafs with Vesa Toskala for Toronto's first- and second-round picks in the 2007 draft.

When he came into training camp for the Leafs, a lot was expected from the troubled winger, being a former 20-goal scorer and eighth overall pick. He knew there were expectations, but with jail time looming over his head, he once again turned in another dismal season by only notching 10 points in 35 games amid a broken orbital bone, only adding to his problems.

So who is to say this year will be different?

Well, first off, he finished serving his time in prison after completing his 90-day sentence during this summer.

In a recent interview, he told reporters that it was a "humbling experience."

Because of this, I believe that, for the first time in two years, he will not have this looming over his head, which means he can get back to what he was meant to do—play hockey.

He can finally relax and focus on what's important in his life instead of having to worry and wonder what is going to happen next, or whether or not he will be a Maple Leaf. 

This year he will be not only a better hockey player, he will be a better person, too, and he will prove to whomever he plays for this season that sometimes it is worth giving someone a second chance.