The native of Wakaw, Sask., played 776 games with the Habs, the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and Vancouver Canucks. He was part of Montreal’s back-to-back championship teams in 1965 and ’66, assisting on Herni Richard’s Cup-winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings on May 5, 1966.
Balon died Tuesday in Prince Albert of complications from multiple sclerosis, a disease he battled for more than 30 years.
During his career the five-foot-10, 172-pound left-winger collected 192 goals and 222 assists with 607 penalty minutes.
Between 1968 and 1972 Balon played with centre 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 played his junior hockey in Saskatchewan and broke into the NHL with the Rangers in 1959.
He shuttled between the Rangers and their minor-league affiliates in Vancouver, Saskatoon, Trois-Rivieres, Que., and Kitchener, Ont., before making the team for good in 1962. He was part of a blockbuster trade on June 4, 1963, that sent him to Montreal with Gump Worsley, Leon Rochefort and Len Ronson for Jacques Plante, Phil Goyette and Donnie Marshal.
Balon played four seasons with Montreal and Minnesota before being reaquired by the Rangers in June 1968.
In 1970-71, Balon, who wore No. 17, was named the Rangers’ “most popular player on and off the ice.”
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.
He is survived by his wife Gwen, daughter Jodi and son Jeff.