Former NHL enforcer Wade Belak was found dead in a downtown Toronto hotel Wednesday afternoon.
Belak, who turned 35 in July, announced his retirement this summer after a 14-year pro career that included stints with the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and, most recently, the Nashville Predators. Belak appeared in 549 NHL games over the course of his career, scoring eight goals and 33 points along with 1,263 penalty minutes.
Sources said police were called to a hotel and condo complex in Toronto at about 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and found a body in the room. Belak was in Toronto preparing to appear as one of the competitors on CBC’s Battle of the Blades.
“The entire Nashville Predators organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of Wade Belak,” Belak’s last team commented in a release. “Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed. 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.”
Belak’s death marks the third tragedy this summer involving a current or former NHL enforcer. Derek Boogaard of the New York Rangers was found dead May 13 due to a lethal mix of alcohol and oxycodone. Rick Rypien, who was preparing to play for the Winnipeg Jets this season, was found dead in his home in Coleman, Alta., two weeks ago.
After finishing this season with the Nashville Predators, Belak had announced his retirement and was planning to embark on a broadcasting career as a television and radio reporter for Predators games. Belak is survived by his wife and two daughters.