Belak is the third NHL enforcer found dead since May.
“Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed,” according to the Predators’ statement. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex. We offer our full support to them at this very difficult time.”
Toronto police spokesman Tony Vella said officers found a man dead when called at 1:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday at a hotel and condo complex. Vella said “foul play is not suspected in the ongoing investigation” into Belak’s death.
Belak was scheduled to work as a sideline reporter on Nashville television broadcasts this season. The 6-foot-5, 233-pound forward played for Colorado, Calgary, Toronto, Florida and finished his career with Nashville, playing in 549 career NHL games with eight goals, 25 assists and 1,263 penalty minutes.
He fought 136 times during his 14-year NHL career, according to hockeyfights.com.
Belak is the third NHL tough guy who has died this offseason.
Winnipeg’s Rick Rypien was found dead at the age of 27 earlier this month at his home in Alberta after a police official said a call was answered for a “sudden and non-suspicious” death. Former Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May at 28 due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.
“We’re talking about such a short period of time,” said Craig Button, who was the general manager of the Calgary Flames when Belak played there early in his career, told The Canadian Press. “It’s not only about the deaths, it’s the deaths that surround similar type players. … It’s not just getting hit in the head, it’s everything that goes with that (enforcer) role. I think that people are paying very, very serious attention to concussions and blows to the head and the role of the enforcer.
“I don’t think anybody can stop until we really understand the impact it has not only physically, but emotionally as well.”
Predators forward Blake Geoffrion sent his prayers to Belak’s family on Twitter.
“Wade Belak was one of funniest dudes I had ever met. Just was with him earlier this summer. Can’t believe it,” Geoffrion tweeted.View Entire Story
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