Dave Balon began to feel the symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis while still a high-scoring star in the NHL, though he wasn't diagnosed with the disease until after his playing days were over. Fans and coaches thought his legs were gone, that he had lost the drive that had helped him win two Stanley Cups with Montreal and grab headlines as a top goal scorer in New York.
Plagued by constant fatigue, he saw his goal-production dwindle and a few short years after being voted the most popular New York Ranger in 1970-71, he was out of the league. The winger first came to prominence playing on a junior team with his brothers, Chick and Rudy. In 1963 he was involved in a much-discussed trade between New York and Montreal, moving with Gump Worsley to the Canadiens for Jacques Plante.
He won Cups with the Habs in 1965 and 1966 and led the league in playoff assists with the Minnesota North Stars in 1967. He returned to the Rangers the next year and played on a line with Walt Tkaczuk and Bill Fairbairn. A high-scoring trio known as "The Bulldogs", Balon was assigned to check opposing stars such as Gordie Howe and Bobby Hull, and his savvy play garnered him one of the best plus-minus ratings in the league. When his illness began to affect his play, Balon was dealt to the Vancouver Canucks, where he was booed by fans that expected him to score as he had in New York.
After a year in the WHA, Balon retired in 1974 to battle MS.