Éric Bélanger (born December 16, 1977) is a Canadian former professional ice hockey player. He played the majority of his professional career as a centre in the National Hockey League (NHL), representing the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Minnesota Wild, Washington Capitals, Phoenix Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers. He was originally drafted in the fourth round, 96th overall, in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft by Los Angeles.
Bélanger was drafted in the fourth round, 96th overall, by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft from the Beauport Harfangs. Before making his NHL debut, he played with Beauport and Rimouski Océanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL); the Fredericton Canadiens, Springfield Falcons and Lowell Lock Monsters of the American Hockey League (AHL); and the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League (IHL). He made his NHL debut on October 6, 2000.
During the 2004–05 NHL lockout, Bélanger played for HC Bolzano in Italy.
On September 29, 2006, Bélanger and Tim Gleason were traded to the Hurricanes in exchange for Oleg Tverdovsky and Jack Johnson. On February 9, 2007, during the 2006–07 season, Bélanger was traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for centre Josef Vašíček. The following day, he was sent to the Atlanta Thrashers for defenceman Vitaly Vishnevski. During his time in Atlanta, he helped the Thrashers earn their first-ever Stanley Cup playoff berth where on April 12, 2007, he scored the first-ever Thrashers playoff goal off an assist from defenceman Niclas Hävelid on the power play.
On July 3, 2007, Bélanger signed as an unrestricted free agent with the Minnesota Wild on a three-year contract.
On March 3, 2010, the NHL trade deadline, Bélanger was traded to the Washington Capitals in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. In Game 5 of the Capitals' 2010 playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens, Bélanger took a high stick to the mouth from Canadiens defenceman Marc-André Bergeron, which resulted in Bélanger losing nine teeth. Moments after the hit, the game telecast showed Bélanger on the bench removing a loose tooth from his mouth, using just his fingers and a piece of gauze.
Bélanger signed a three-year, $5.25 million contract with the Edmonton Oilers on July 1, 2011. In his first season in Edmonton, however, he set offensive career-lows, scoring just four goals and 12 assists, the lowest totals in both categories in his NHL career.
During the lockout-shortened 2012–13 season, Bélanger suffered a second successive disappointing year going without a goal in 26 games for the Oilers. On July 4, 2013, he was placed on unconditional waivers in order for a compliance buyout from the final year of his contract with the Oilers.
On July 15, 2013, Bélanger left the NHL and signed a one-year contract abroad in Russia with Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). He played in just seven games with Avtomobilist in the 2013–14 season, before opting to return to North America and retire from professional hockey on September 25, 2013.
Bélanger and wife Alexandra have two daughters: Oceanne and Lola Pearl.