Wade Belak Found dead
Police are yet to confirm the cause of death, but did say that foul play is not suspected.
Belak, just 35 years old, is remembered by NHL fans as a character player whose big personality and humor often seemed to overshadow his role as an enforcer.
Originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the first round (12th overall) at the 1994 NHL entry draft, Belak spent parts of 15 NHL seasons with the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and, most recently, with the Nashville Predators organization where he played in 15 games last season.
Belak earned career NHL totals of eight goals, 25 assists, 33 points and 1263 penalty minutes in 549 games.
The tragic loss of Wade Belak is one of three in NHL circles this summer, joining former New York Rangers tough guy Derek “The boogey man” Boogaard, who passed away in May and Former Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien who passed on August, 15th.
In the case of Boogarrd and Rypien, drugs, alcohol and/or depression are all thought to have played a role in their deaths—it is still a mystery what the cause of death is with respect to Belak, but there are already some reports surfacing that depression may have been a factor.
Boogarard’s death has been linked to a lethal dose of Oxycodone and alcohol, while Rypien had been in and out of the NHL’s substance abuse program and had been rumored to have been a long time sufferer of depression.
Many of us have had our lives touched by loved ones who, at some point in their lives, have had to endure the horrible sickness that is depression, many of whom never ask for help.
With so many NHL players suffering from substance abuse and/or depression issues, it appears as if the NHL (which is currently revisiting it’s policies and treatments) will have it’s work cut out for them in the coming months trying to find a way to help it’s players (former and current) before things get out of control (if they aren’t already).
The thing is, there were no signs that Belak was suffering from depression, drug abuse or anything of that nature. The way most of us remember Belak was him always joking around, his contagious smile, his penchant for playing practical jokes, and his ability to never take himself too seriously.
Belak also had the ability to keep his teammates loose in the dressing room—an asset that served him well throughout his NHL career.
Well respected in broadcasting circles, Belak was set to participate in the Battle of the Blades on CBC, an opportunity Belak was surely looking forward to.
For a player with limited skills, Belak had a tremendous career. By all accounts Belak had a great life, a loving wife, kids, a promising broadcast career and the love and respect of fans and NHL players everywhere—so what went wrong?
Time will tell… but, for now, It’s another sad day for the NHL and it’s fans. Here’s hoping it is the last incident of this nature—it’s all too sad…
Until next time,