Ex-NHL player Belak found dead
NASHVILLE - Former Predator Wade Belak, an enforcer who had played with five NHL teams before retiring in March, was found dead yesterday in Toronto. He was 35.
The Predators learned of Belak’s death from NHL security and the team issued a statement saying the organization was shocked and saddened by his sudden and untimely death.
“Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed,’’ the statement read. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex.’’
Toronto police spokesman Tony Vella said officers found a man dead when called at 1:40 p.m. yesterday at a hotel and condo complex. Vella said “foul play is not suspected in the ongoing investigation.’’
Belak was scheduled to work as a sideline reporter on Nashville television broadcasts this season. The 6-foot-5-inch, 233-pound forward played for Colorado, Calgary, Toronto, Florida and Nashville, playing in 549 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 enforcer found dead since May.
Winnipeg’s Rick Rypien was found dead at the age of 27 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 because of an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.
After Rypien’s death, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said he expected the NHL to review its substance abuse and behavioral health program.
“It’s not only about the deaths, it’s the deaths that surround similar type players,’’ former Flames general manager Craig Button told The Canadian Press. “It’s not just getting hit in the head, it’s everything that goes with that role. I think that people are paying very, very serious attention to concussions.’’