The 1998-99 Belleville Bulls finished a distant second in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Division, 18 points behind the Ottawa 67’s. The team was third in their conference and fifth in the league. Yet, the Belleville Bulls took the J. Ross Robertson Trophy as OHL playoff champs with a 7th game win over the London Knights in the final.
The team would go on to make an appearance at the Memorial Cup tournament in Ottawa, but relying completely on offense, would fall to the host Ottawa 67s in the semi-final.
Eleven years later, it’s nothing short of amazing that 14 players off that Belleville Bull team are still showing off their talent in professional hockey. Belleville alumni are represented in 9 different leagues in 5 different countries. Also, amazingly, in this day and age of building a winning team from the outside, 13 of the 14 players started their OHL careers with the Bulls. Only 5 of the 14 players finished out their OHL careers with other clubs.
As usual, where available, you can find each player’s profile page at their current team’s official website by clicking on their name.
Justin Papineau was a Bull from 1996-97 to 1999-00. He was the team’s leading scorer throughout the regular season and playoffs in 1998-99. He had 52 goals and 99 points in the regular season then exploded for 21 goals and 51 points in just 21 playoff games. Papineau logged 81 NHL games over his pro career with the St. Louis Blues and the New York Islanders. Currently, Justin is with Adler Mannheim of Germany’s DEL.
Ryan Ready was a Bull from 1995-96 to 1998-99. Ryan put in 7 games with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06 before heading to Germany to play with his current club, Iserlohn Roosters.
Jonathan Cheechoo played in Belleville from 1997-98 to 1999-00. He has enjoyed a 500+ game career in the NHL with San Jose Sharks and Ottawa Senators that was highlighted by a 56 goal performance in 2005-06. He has spent the last part of this season with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators.
Kevin Baker played in Belleville from 1997-98 to 1999-00. Kevin is in his second season with the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. In his first season, he was the ECHL’s scoring leader with 57 goals and 45 assists for 102 points. He was also named league MVP.
Chris Stanley (the link goes to a list of the team’s forwards – click on Chris’ name to view profile) was a Bull from 1996-97 to 1999-00. Chris went the university route after the OHL and spent 4 seasons with Dalhousie in the AUS. Currently, Chris is playing in Germany’s Bundesliga 2 with Fischtown Pinguins.
Randy Rowe (link goes to team roster – click on Randy’s name to view his profile) played in Belleville from 1997-98 to 2000-01. Although he was an integral part of the championship team in 1999, his best season in the OHL came two years later when he potted 64 goals in just 63 games. Randy currently finds himself on the roster of the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL.
Branko Radivojevic played for the Bulls 1998-99 to 2000-01. Branko played 393 games in the NHL with Phoenix Coyotes, Philadelphia Flyers and the Minnesota Wild before switching to Russia’s KHL. Branko is currently a member of Spartak Moscow. His profile page on the League’s official site can be found here.
Jason Lawmaster was acquired by the Bulls from the Plymouth Whalers during the 1997-98 season and played his second of two OHL seasons with the Bulls in 1998-99. Jason is currently with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the IHL.
Michael Jacobson played for Belleville from 1997-98 to 2000-01. His final season in the OHL, 2001-02, was split between the Sudbury Wolves and the Owen Sound Attack. After three years playing in Italy, Michael spent this season with the Belfast Giants of Great Britain’s EIHL.
Branislav Mezei was a Bull from 1997-98 to 1999-00. He put in 240 NHL games with the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers before heading to Russia’s KHL last season. This season was split between the Czech Republic and Finland. Branislav is currently with the Blues of Finland’s SM-liiga. There isn’t a profile on the team’s official website but the roster page can be found here.
Nathan Robinson played with Belleville from 1998-99 to 2001-02. Other than the Memorial Cup appearance in his rookie season, the highlight of his OHL career was a 110 point performance in his final season. Nathan is in his 4th season in Germany’s DEL. Currently, he is with former Bull teammate, Justin Papineau, on Adler Mannheim.
Kris Newbury played in the OHL from 1998-99 to 2002-03. His first season and a half were with Belleville and the rest of his OHL career was played out with the Sarnia Sting. Kris has 48 games worth of NHL experience with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings. He is currently in the New York Rangers system with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Doug MacIver started out his rookie season in the OHL, 1998-99, with the Bulls but was traded to the Sarnia Sting to finish out the season. Sarnia traded him to the Kingston Frontenacs the next season and he remained there until the end of his career in 2001-02. Doug played only two games with the Missouri Mavericks of the Central Hockey League this season and is currently off the active roster.