Balon began career with Rangers in '59, retired in '74

PRINCE ALBERT, Saskatchewan -- Dave Balon, who won two Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1960s during a 14-year NHL career, has died. He was 68.

Balon had multiple sclerosis for more than 30 years and died Tuesday, according to the New York Rangers, one of his former teams.

Balon also played for the Vancouver Canucks and Minnesota North Stars, as well as the Quebec Nordiques when they were part of the WHA. The left winger had career totals of 192 goals and 222 assists, with 607 penalty minutes.

Balon began his NHL career with the Rangers in 1959 but was traded to Montreal in a highly publicized deal that brought goaltending great Jacques Plante to New York in 1963.

He went on to win the Cup with Montreal in 1965 and '66. He assisted on Herni Richard's Cup-winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings on May 5, 1966.

Between 1968 and 1972 Balon played with center Walt Tkaczuk and right winger Bill Fairbairn to form the Rangers' Bulldog Line. He led New York with 33 goals in 1969-70 and 36 in 1970-71.

"Davey was one of the most versatile players I ever coached," said Emile Francis, the Rangers' longtime coach and general manager. "He was one of the best defensive forwards in the league, great in the corners and excellent on the power play."

Balon began the 1971-72 season with the Rangers but was traded to Vancouver early in the season. He ended his NHL career with the Canucks in 1972-73. He attempted a comeback in the WHA with Quebec during the 1973-74 season but was forced to retire at age 35 because of multiple sclerosis.

Balon was born in Wakaw and played his junior hockey in Saskatchewan.

He is survived by his wife, Gwen, daughter Jodi and son Jeff.