Since breaking into the NHL in 2019, all Kieffer Bellows knew was New York Islanders hockey. Drafted 19th overall by New York in the 2016 NHL Draft, Bellows played 68 games for New York over a four-year period, notching 11 goals and 14 assists.
After playing just one game with the New York Islanders this season, the season-opener against the Florida Panthers, Kieffer Bellows never got another opportunity in the blue and orange.
“I am confident that I can play. I just gotta be given… let out there, and once I do that, then I think good things will come,” Bellows told NYI Hockey Now on Oct. 25.
On Oct. 26, the New York Islanders decided to waive the 24-year-old forward, keeping Ross Johnston and Nikita Soshnikov on the rosters as extras. And a day later, a banged-up Philadelphia Flyers team claimed Bellows.
Bellows has not produced much under John Tortorella, but he’s getting a chance to play, something he didn’t get under Lane Lambert.
Despite no points in nine games, he’s been more effective the last three games, with 10 shots over that span as well as 10 hits.
Before the contest against the Islanders, an unshaven Bellows spoke to the media about his time with Philadelphia so far, what the Islanders meant to him, and more.
“It’s been great,” Bellows said about his time so far in Philadelphia. “Starting off, I was trying to learn the system, get used to everything, but I feel these last three games I’ve really found myself and been shooting the puck a lot more and making a lot more plays.”
“I know points-wise it hasn’t shown up, but right now, I’m not too worried about that. I know that, from getting opportunities, that sooner or later, they’re going to go in.”
Then Bellows took us through the process of being waived by the Islanders.
“Having a meeting with Lou, telling me he is going to put me on waivers was…it was surprising, but I know Lou. He has to make the best decisions for his team,” Bellows said. “He has to do what’s right for his team in the long run, and I respect that completely.”
“I only have high praise for Lou and that organization over there, but going through that process near the end, Philadelphia picked me up, and from then on, I’ve just been working hard, just trying to build my game up, and I’m feeling really good right now.”
As for what it’s been like under the tutelage of John Tortorella:
“Yeah, it’s been fantastic. I think Torts is an unbelievable coach. [He’s] very, very detailed in the systems and what he wants, but he also wants us to go out there and make plays, be defensively reliable, but make the right plays. When the time comes, don’t be afraid to be creative and go for the right play, but there’s a time and a place for it.”
Bellows has never played for another organization, and Bellows said facing the Islanders is going to be weird.
“It’s gonna be weird looking across the ice and not wearing the blue and orange,” Bellows said. “But, I’m happy to see the success that the team’s having. I’m happy to see that they’re doing well. And, you know, even like a guy like Simon Holmstrom, from texting him after his first game, I was super happy for him.”
“I’m excited for the game tonight. But just like any other day, it’s another game. I just have to go out there and play my game, play in the systems, and hopefully, we come out with a win.”
Bellows played four years on the Islanders, a total of six years with the organization. He cherished his time in New York and spoke glowingly about the organization.
“It’s where I started my career. They gave me my first opportunity to play in the NHL, and I can never thank them enough for that,” Bellows said. “From everyone, from Lou to the higher-ups, to the guys on the team, to the staff, the equipment managers, trainers, I can’t thank them enough.”
“I think the biggest takeaway was just the professionalism of that organization over there. Being my first organization, they really showed how to take care of each other, how to play the game right, and just how to act a certain way off the ice.”