Bulls bring back trio of fan favorites

Surely, San Francisco Bulls fans were excited on Wednesday when the team announced the return of three players from the inaugural season roster.

But the re-signing of Kris Belan, Dylan King and captain Scott Langdon is also important for solidifying the identity of the young San Francisco team and preparing for an even stronger 2013-2014 season.

Team president and head coach Pat Curcio expressed excitement for the three signings in a press release that came out early Wednesday:

“I’m excited to start shaping this season’s roster with some core members from last season.”

In his final interview of the ’12-’13 season, Langdon described the identity of the team as evolving into “hard-working” and  “blue collar.”

Perhaps that mentality was born from the fact that they worked for every goal they scored and never had a single win handed to them on a silver platter.

Or maybe it evolved from playing at the dinosaur of a barn known as the Cow Palace.

But grit and a strong work ethic are certainly qualities that you want in a hockey team. And they are all qualities that Curcio pin-pointed in the mid-week announcement:

“Scott grew to be our leader. … Dylan became a workhorse on defense as the season progressed. … We know Kris will bring leadership, physical play and offense to the Bulls’ forwards this year.”

That hard-working mentality translated into productive seasons on the ice for these three returning teammates.

Defenseman Langdon, who was named team captain towards the tail end of the season, totaled 12 points (1 goal, 11 assists) in 67 games with the Bulls, and led the team with 150 penalty minutes and a +6 rating.

King, in his third year of professional hockey, tallied 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) and racked up 99 penalty minutes — including one fight that left him with a blood-soaked sweater — in 69 games on defense for the Bulls.

Belan earned himself a call-up to the AHL late last February where he recorded one assist and seven penalty minutes with the Manchester Monarchs, before returning to San Francisco to be part of the Bulls’ playoff run.

The 26-year-old winger tallied 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) with the Bulls and ranked second behind Langdon with 141 penalty minutes.

All three players were also recipients of team end-of-year awards back in April. Belan was given Top Rookie honors, and King was named the team’s Most Improved Player. Langdon walked away — excuse me, skated away — with two awards, Top Defenseman and the Fan Favorite Award.