Wade Belak Found Dead

Kent Wilson
August 31 2011 03:43PM

 

 

Ex-Flame and Leaf enforcer Wade Belak was reportedly found dead in his Toronto condo this afternoon. The 35-year old recently retired from hockey.

Belak's death marks the third tragic passing of an NHL tough guy this summer after Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien. The cause of his death has yet to be reported, but whatever it is, this has truly been one of the saddest offseasons in NHL memory.

More to come as details emerge. For now, sincere condolences to Belak's friends and family.

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Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 DJ Dynasty Handbag
August 31 2011, 03:45PM
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very sad offseason.

RIP

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#2 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
August 31 2011, 03:50PM
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DJ Dynasty Handbag wrote:

very sad offseason.

RIP

agree'd, what is going on with these players.

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#3 RKD
August 31 2011, 03:56PM
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I've never seen this many NHL causalities in an off-season. While each player is ultimately responsible for their own health, the NHL needs to do a better job taking care of their players. Especially, during the off-season. It's like during the season everything matters, off-season everyone disappears for 2-4 months, does their own thing and hope they are in shape by September.

All three deaths have been with enforcers, no one can control their lifestyle. I hate to stereotype or generalize, but enforcers seem to be more apt to substance abuse, alcohol dependency, gambling - Darren McCarty. Maybe it's their upbringing, socio-economic status or something else.

Player deaths shouldn't be a wake up call, because by then it is already too late.

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#5 freeze
August 31 2011, 04:05PM
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Very sad. Didn't he sign on for Battle of the Blades this season?

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#6 pelhem grenville
August 31 2011, 04:22PM
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...my gawd bad things really do happen in 3's

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#7 Eric
August 31 2011, 04:37PM
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This is kind of starting to remind me of the young death pandemic in pro wrestling that was especially bad four or five years ago. The media can blame sexy subjects like concussions and steroids and things of that nature all they want. Bottom line - 90% of it is painkiller and other prescription drug abuse, typically linked to the physical toll an occupation like that has on one's body.

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#8 Eric
August 31 2011, 04:38PM
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I would be remiss not to mention on a personal note that I feel horrible about Belak and wish his family all the best. Great guy. RIP.

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#9 Rain Dogs
August 31 2011, 04:38PM
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Man, this is terrible. I'm really sorry for the three families (and many more) that have to endure this.

As skill, money, knowledge and resources pour into the game, the level of competition escalates and pressure these guys are under is incredible.

I understand that the mental side of the game to many people is seen as noise, but having played, coached, scouted and been around hockey as long as I have I know that these kids are facing increasing difficulty coupled with decreasing opportunity, especially depth players.

The physical side of the game demonstrates how far we go to create efficient machines, great numbers and stats. The mental side of the game (and their life) is what we really don't understand, don't want to, it's pushed away and devalued and yet paradoxically it's what makes us and them human.

As machines these guys are nearly invincible, as men, they're as fragile as any one of us.

It's a damn shame, this is.

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#10 Jodes
August 31 2011, 04:39PM
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RKD wrote:

I've never seen this many NHL causalities in an off-season. While each player is ultimately responsible for their own health, the NHL needs to do a better job taking care of their players. Especially, during the off-season. It's like during the season everything matters, off-season everyone disappears for 2-4 months, does their own thing and hope they are in shape by September.

All three deaths have been with enforcers, no one can control their lifestyle. I hate to stereotype or generalize, but enforcers seem to be more apt to substance abuse, alcohol dependency, gambling - Darren McCarty. Maybe it's their upbringing, socio-economic status or something else.

Player deaths shouldn't be a wake up call, because by then it is already too late.

35 years old is way too young! Just curious though, when did he officially retire from the NHL? It must have not been that long ago was it? Still heartbreaking.

Yes you have to wonder RKD what has caused these fellows to lead such destructive lifestyles in comparison to their team-mates. It could be everything you mentioned, or it might be something completely out of left field.

Lets just hope this past summer is the exception and not the beginning of a terrible "norm".

We here in Canada hope that something is done before more trajedies occur, but sadly in most of the US people won't blink and eye, unless its baseball, basketball and football. If 3 players died in one off season due to drug related occurances, their would be a congressional hearing and all of those leagues would be under the microscope to clean themselves up.. or else. Can't see the same being done for the NHL.

I hate to say this, but if soemthing isn't done and quick more NHL players could end up like many professional wrestlers over the years, gone way way way before their time.

Thanks for reading.

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#11 ubermiguel
August 31 2011, 04:59PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

enforcers seem to be more apt to substance abuse, alcohol dependency, gambling - Darren McCarty. Maybe it's their upbringing, socio-economic status or something else.

This is something I was recently researching and plan to publish an article on this week actually.

@ Kent; Is that going up on all the Nations' sites? I am very interested in reading that.

My condolences to Wade's friends and family. This is just shocking.

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#13 Dan the Man
August 31 2011, 05:07PM
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Very sad news. By all accounts Wade was a great guy and a great teammate.

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#14 HOFFFF
August 31 2011, 05:07PM
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To Jodes:

According to TSN, Belak played 15 games last season for the Predators, finishing with 18 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating. He was placed on waivers by the club in February of this year. He retired shortly after clearing waivers unclaimed.

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#15 MC Hockey
August 31 2011, 05:16PM
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As for the comments about likely cause of death, I sadly would suggest all the ideas (addictions to/mixing of alcohol, drugs, painkillers, and gambling) could be part of it as well as the possibilities of mental illness caused by childhood environment, traumatic events in life or hockey, or the pressure of being expected to put your life on the line in a hockey fight are all likely. The very manly state of being a hockey player is conducive to all the above possibilites as well as the rarely talked-about condition of sex addiction which can put many lives and relationships at risk (just ask Tiger Woods). P.S. Heard on one radio station (either Fan960 or its news sister 660News) that yes, he was in Toronto to filming for Battle of The Blades.

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#16 Wanyes bastard child
August 31 2011, 05:21PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I plan to publish at the Score. We'll see if they'll let me cross-post. If not, that's where ti will be in the next day or so.

They seem to link the nations quite often so I can't see an issue with you linking the article here ;)

RE: pelhem;

And hopefully this is the last story like this that we hear for quite along time.

RIP Mr Belak

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#17 Smokey
August 31 2011, 05:26PM
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I feel horrible, and feel for Wade`s family at this time. You hope that injuries are not hockey related, but if theirs a link to head injuries that would be enough to sway my opinion on fighting. I starting to not enjoy fighting lately because we are starting to understand the effects. Knowing that these guys are sacrificing a full life or their health.

I don`t think the NHL has the balls right now to rethink head shots and fighting, and do what many lesser leagues are starting to do, and other proffessional sports have. Maybe they should. I would of been happy if they adopted any hit to the head as a penalty, whether their was intent or not.

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#18 Harlie
August 31 2011, 05:34PM
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Is the friggen Adjustment Bureau at work on the NHL? This is sickening!!

RIP Belak, Rypien, Boogard...

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#19 Captain Ron
August 31 2011, 05:42PM
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Eric wrote:

This is kind of starting to remind me of the young death pandemic in pro wrestling that was especially bad four or five years ago. The media can blame sexy subjects like concussions and steroids and things of that nature all they want. Bottom line - 90% of it is painkiller and other prescription drug abuse, typically linked to the physical toll an occupation like that has on one's body.

You nailed it Eric. The damage that some prescription drugs do to your body can be devastating. My wife and I own and operate a natural health clinic. We see and hear about the effects of prescription, and non-prescription drugs all the time from our clients. Painkillers can create anger, mood swings and depression in people. Abusing these drugs can really mess you up both short and long term. Don't know if that is partly to blame here or not.

I liked Belak as a person based on the interviews I have seen with him, and his appearances on TSN's OTR. Sure hope that "legal" drugs didn't take another life.

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#20 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
August 31 2011, 06:06PM
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@Captain Ron

But that's kind of like the old "guns don't kill people" debate: ultimately, it's up to the user to decide how to use the product.

Without details it's impossible to know, but if this death was due to the mixing of prescription drugs, would the drug company be at fault for selling a potentially dangerous product, or would Belak be at fault for not following the written warnings on said product?

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#21 Jodes
August 31 2011, 06:08PM
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HOFFFF wrote:

To Jodes:

According to TSN, Belak played 15 games last season for the Predators, finishing with 18 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating. He was placed on waivers by the club in February of this year. He retired shortly after clearing waivers unclaimed.

Thanks, I found that out later. I think I might have seen him play against the Blackhawks when I was in Nashville last November. I'll have to check my guide and see if he was in the lineup.

Way to young to go. Sigh.

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#22 FastOil
August 31 2011, 06:20PM
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Very sad. I sold something to he and the missus once.

I don't think concussions cause these events, but I do think they worsen things for these fellows mentally.

I don't think anyone who fights for a living starts out in a good place. Inflicting unnecessary pain on others or having it done to you isn't something most people will do. It isn't like fighting for survival or out of anger (which is likely just as unhealthy mentally speaking).

The old mindset of certain people being "tougher" I think has been dispelled. It's more a matter of how much damage a person is willing to take.

I think of Dan Kepley. As a kid I thought he was invincible. After the alcohol and pill problems that came to light after his career, and the fact he's a mess physically, it seems we're all made of the same stuff.

Here's an interview with him, really shows the mindset of self destruction that will hopefully leave hockey sooner rather than later:

http://www.cbc.ca/fifth/2008-2009/head_games/interview_kepley.html

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#23 Mr. Pederson
August 31 2011, 06:21PM
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Very sad to hear. My sincere condolences to his friends and family, sad to see another young former NHLer go too soon.

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#24 Apples&Hay
August 31 2011, 06:32PM
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Very sad. I live in Coleman AB where Rypien was from & the community was hit hard by his tragic passing. thoughts & prayers to the Belak family.

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#25 Jeremy
August 31 2011, 06:56PM
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I feel really bad for the families of these young men. While they have made the choice to do this with there lives, there are many in the sport that have encouraged the behaviours that likely have contributed to their untimely deaths. I think head trauma in hockey is especially brutal because of the speed of the collisions and bare knuckle fights that are so celebrated. I can't help but feel some sense of sickness thinking back to the 'rock'em, sock'em' videos that I used to so enjoy. To add to the Belak story as well, Marc Savard's career seems likely to be over, likely as a result of a series of brutal head shots. RIP Belak, Rip, Boogard, and the many others we likely don't hear about.

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#26 ubermiguel
August 31 2011, 07:10PM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I plan to publish at the Score. We'll see if they'll let me cross-post. If not, that's where ti will be in the next day or so.

@ Kent; thanks, I'll watch for it there.

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#27 dw
August 31 2011, 07:46PM
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added 6:55pm, Ian Robertson of the Toronto Sun, in the original link to the Belak story has updated with this…

Belak took his life, according to sources.

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#28 Ken V.
August 31 2011, 07:51PM
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There has to be a link between taking so many hits to the head and depression and the medication related to both as well. Another tragic loss just begs for answers.... As for Derek, Rick and Wade you will all be missed as you have left your stamp in the NHL and won't soon be forgotten.

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#29 everton fc
August 31 2011, 09:01PM
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Words fail here. Belak was a player I enjoyed watching. He seemed like a typical, decent guy from Sask. We all know many like him... Who grew up like him...

I especially feel for his wife and two young daughters. How do you explain to a child so young that their dad is gone forever. We need to keep this family in our prayers. Not to mention Wade's family back in the Battlefords...

Eric - I think you may be onto something with the addictions to prescription pain killers. It may also be rooted in post-concussion depression. But painkillers are so dangerous.

I am shocked by this one. I really am. He was a good Flame. He played hard here. And everywhere he went afterwards. I can't imagine what must have been going through his mind when he decided he'd had enough with life.

Like someone said above, we need to pray for the families of these guys. I mean this sincerely. We need to pray for their families... Especially Wade's wife and little girls.

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#30 Slava Duris
August 31 2011, 09:14PM
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Another one taken from us far too soon. R.I.P. Wade Belak.

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#31 DSF
August 31 2011, 09:25PM
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A gret article form the National Post:

http://sports.nationalpost.com/2011/08/31/belak-death-an-end-to-a-wretched-summer/

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#32 Kyle Closen
August 31 2011, 09:44PM
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I would like to give my deepest sympathy to the belak family... Wade was a mentor of mine along with his brother graham. Thier father coached me when i was a kid back in N.B. sask. And at Christmas time the boys would come home from the W.H.L and the N.H.L and teach us all the greatest plays! as a kid there was nothing greater than that.. I respect you wade like a tougher bigger better brother! miss you Big Cat. R.I.P. One day we will meet again.

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#33 kyle
August 31 2011, 09:48PM
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@FastOil

*Moderator Edit*

To stem this getting out of control, I'm removing the comment.

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#34 everton fc
August 31 2011, 09:49PM
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We also need to pray for Wade's soul...

Our beloved game is changing... in a very bad way...

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#35 BUCK75
August 31 2011, 10:04PM
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When the National on CBC opens up with Wade Belak dying this is starting to get serious. I surely hope that it's just a strange/sad coincidence that 3 guys who fought for a living in the NHL died in the the same off season. All of us enjoy fights, but it's almost eerie when you look on Youtube & watch a fight between Boogaard & Belak now.

I heard him talking to Stauffer a few weeks ago on the "former" oilers lunch (I think it was), you wouldn't know anything was wrong from the way he spoke...he was supposed to be the colour guy for the predators this season.

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#36 @Oilanderp
August 31 2011, 10:08PM
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The OHL makes equipment changes:

http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/juniors/2011/08/31/ohl_equipment/

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#37 Wanyes bastard child
August 31 2011, 11:21PM
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kyle wrote:

*Moderator Edit*

To stem this getting out of control, I'm removing the comment.

Im trying to find where anything written in what FastOil wrote could even bring forth the venom you spew in your response to him. After reading and re-reading a multitude of times I find nothing in his post that could come close to even garnering the hate and the anger in your reply.

kyle, is there something wrong? I know the internet is not a great place to find help but perhaps you could look at professional help? Just a suggestion eh.

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#38 molten
August 31 2011, 11:46PM
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Wanyes bastard child wrote:

Im trying to find where anything written in what FastOil wrote could even bring forth the venom you spew in your response to him. After reading and re-reading a multitude of times I find nothing in his post that could come close to even garnering the hate and the anger in your reply.

kyle, is there something wrong? I know the internet is not a great place to find help but perhaps you could look at professional help? Just a suggestion eh.

Wayne X2 I just read it for the 3rd time. WTF kyle??

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#39 Oilcruzer
September 01 2011, 12:12AM
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Tragic.

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#40 Vintage Flame
September 01 2011, 12:14AM
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@kyle

Let's take it down a notch okay Kyle. There wasn't anything in FO's post that warranted that kind of response.

It's a crappy situation to see 3 of these guys pass away in 4 months, especially without little explanation or reasoning. Everyone is going to have an opinion, and they are entitled to it as much as the next guy.

It's a touchy subject at best, but let's keep it civil. Please.

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#41 farnsworth
September 01 2011, 12:24AM
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What I am shocked about is the similarities between the deaths of these NHL enforcers and the deaths of professional wrestlers. Both of these professions take a lot of jarring hits, have really long "seasons" (Bret Hart once mentioned that he worked 300 days in a year) and in some cases suffer from drug and mental health issues. I am not sure that this is due to class or industry or what but something should be done.

Belak was often cheered for in the Battlefords and will be missed. Condolences to his friends and family. I hope to god no more players die this off season.

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#42 Vintage Flame
September 01 2011, 12:25AM
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I had a chance to run into Wade outside of the rink one day.. just a fluke passing by, but he was a decent guy and stopped to chat. Class act.

Dude was funny too.

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#43 Kevin R
September 01 2011, 12:55AM
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RIP Wade! My family is from Coleman & the Crowsnest Pass & Sparwood & some were related to Rick Rypien. It was so sad & my heart goes out to all the families. All 3 were different & it shows people are all vulnerable no matter how things look. With the news of Wade, knowing he had a family, I was just numb & feeling dazed. I will pray for all the families and that their sorrow will turn to the fond memories of their loved ones & know the world was better because of them.

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#44 Captain Ron
September 01 2011, 01:35AM
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Jordan Nugent-Hallkins wrote:

But that's kind of like the old "guns don't kill people" debate: ultimately, it's up to the user to decide how to use the product.

Without details it's impossible to know, but if this death was due to the mixing of prescription drugs, would the drug company be at fault for selling a potentially dangerous product, or would Belak be at fault for not following the written warnings on said product?

Its a debateable topic for sure but I'll agree with you that the responsibility is with the end user. This isn't the proper forum for this type of discussion but I will go on record as stating that the misuse of drugs, prescription or otherwise fill more emergency rooms, and kill more people in North America than guns do by a wide margin.

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#45 sloppy joe
September 01 2011, 09:09AM
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CBC has reported that the cause of death was suicide.

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#46 shutout
September 01 2011, 09:33AM
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Interesting theory on the pattern this month is the Werther Effect. Some good articles on the net that talk about how people follow examples and tend to look at others when dealing with their own life.

Is there any correlation to him and Rypiens death. Were they cousins, or did they just have the same cousin in Mark Rypien. Tough for that family to have to go through something like this.

Is it possible that it is Boomers fault? He interviewed him before he died, and while there are some mornings that Boomer makes me crazy is it possible its that much worse when you are interviewed by him?

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#47 shutout
September 01 2011, 09:41AM
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On a more serious note, some philosophical questions.

Knowing the impact that the enforcer role has one players health, physical and mental, why do the Flames have two or three players on their roster that are used just for fighting?

Is it better for these players to be in the NHL earning an NHL paycheck and going through their personal physical and mental struggles as opposed to earning a living in the minors or outside of hockey?

What will it take to get the "dancing bear" orchestrated hockey fight out of the game? I am not against fighting if it is spontaneous and is an outlet for anger or frusteration on the ice. Fists are better than sticks. But every year the game shows less reason for using a roster spot for a player that players 1-3 shifts for 2-5 minutes and is there only to fight another teams tough guy. They cannot actually protect anybody because of the enforcer rule, so how is it the game of hockey can justify having this role still in the game?

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#49 Damon
September 01 2011, 09:55AM
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Wade was my favourite Maple Leaf, not beause of his ability, but because he seemed to have the best and healthiest attitude. He knew that he was a borderline player earning a small fortune playing in the most-scrutinised hockey market in the world, and he wore that pressure seemingly without effort. Always smiling, always making time for the press and fans, and coming in and out of lineup without complaint.

My favourite memory was a quote he delivered on HNIC: his mom was in town to see the Leafs, and asked him why she hadn't seen any Wade Belak sweaters for sale in the ACC giftshop, and he replied, "Gee, they must be sold out again."

What a guy.

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#50 Vintage Flame
September 01 2011, 10:20AM
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@shutout

Is it better for these players to be in the NHL earning an NHL paycheck and going through their personal physical and mental struggles as opposed to earning a living in the minors or outside of hockey?

Mark Spector actually wrote an article in line with that topic.

You can read it here.

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