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Wade Belak Found Dead

from QMI Agency at the Toronto Sun,

Former Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy Wade Belak was found dead in a Toronto hotel Wednesday.

The 35-year-old from Saskatoon was found in the tony 1 King West hotel and condo residence.

Belak retired in March after a long NHL career that included stops in Colorado, Calgary, Toronto, Florida and Nashville. He was recently announced as one of the ex-NHLers who would be performing on CBC’s Battle of the Blades this year.

continued

I had heard rumors of this early today, but in a situation like this, you surely do not want to report anything that is not correct.

added 6:41pm,

Nashville, Tenn. (August 31, 2011) - “The entire Nashville Predators organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of Wade Belak. 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.”

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.

added 7:30pm,

NEW YORK (August 31, 2011)—Gary Bettman, Commissioner of the National Hockey League, today released the following statement regarding the death of Wade Belak:

“The National Hockey League family mourns the passing of Wade Belak, who competed to the utmost every minute of his NHL career. Our hearts go out to Wade’s loved ones, his friends, his former teammates and to all who feel the horrible void left by this tragedy.”

added 7:48pm,

TORONTO (August 31, 2011) – National Hockey League Players’ Association Executive Director Don Fehr issued the following statement on the passing of Wade Belak:

“All Players and NHLPA staff are sincerely saddened and shocked by the passing of former member Wade Belak. His affable personality made him popular with teammates, fans and media, and he was a hardworking, respected member of the Association. He will undoubtedly be greatly missed throughout the entire hockey community. Our deepest condolences go out to Wade’s family and friends during this very difficult time.”

 

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: wade+belak

Comments

Avatar

The Toronto Sun article says “Belak took his life, according to sources.”

Posted by NathanBC on 08/31/11 at 08:53 PM ET

Paul's avatar

Yep, just updated the post NathanBC, the story has been updated a few times.

Enough of these tragic deaths, no matter the reason, cause, something needs to be done.

Wish I had the answer though.

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 08/31/11 at 08:58 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

that’s 3 tough guys “Goons” in 1 off season I really fighting has to go NOW!

Posted by Evilpens on 08/31/11 at 09:07 PM ET

Evilpens's avatar

*Think*

Posted by Evilpens on 08/31/11 at 09:20 PM ET

awould's avatar

very sad.

Posted by awould on 08/31/11 at 09:31 PM ET

Ducksworth's avatar

RIP

Posted by Ducksworth from Brownstown, MI on 08/31/11 at 09:38 PM ET

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For those wondering why he was at that particular hotel (as it’s not a central hub in Toronto), all of the Battle of the Blades participants stay there, and are regularly in line for coffee across the street.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/31/11 at 09:48 PM ET

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man what is going on?? This is the 3rd “enforcer” to lose his life this off-season.  I really wasn’t buying into the goon/concussion talk but maybe there is something to it.

Thoughts are with his family, RIP brother

Posted by tbassett on 08/31/11 at 10:01 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I think the responses of other tough guys indicate its more a matter of the job than the concussions.. if anything those are a side effect of the job as is substance abuse.. I think it may be time to take out the staged fights though.. and believe me I always got out of my seat for them but there just shouldn’t be that expectation for a person every other game.. its one thing in the heat of battle.. kane/Cooke or Crosby and whoever he went at but I think the time for glorifying it has passed.. just not worth the cost

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 08/31/11 at 10:45 PM ET

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Something very wrong.  3 in 6 months.  The League and the Players Association have to have a sit down.  I suspect substance abuse but who knows?

Posted by 13 user names on 08/31/11 at 11:11 PM ET

Hank1974's avatar

@HockeytownOverhaul
It’s a scientific fact that depression is a side effect to concussions.
A London publication just ran a story about a 17-year-old football player from the US who hanged himself days after sustaining another concussion.
His mother said he was always happy and full of life.
Doctors examined his brain and found damage from a number of concussions he sustained.

Get rid of fighting. The only time I’ve read anything about the NHL on ESPN’s main site is when one of their goons dies.

It’s bad for the sport. It’s not needed in the sport. And it’s taking lives.
End it already.

Posted by Hank1974 on 08/31/11 at 11:38 PM ET

Baroque's avatar

What a horrible piece of news. The saddest thing by far is that sports fans are getting so used to it.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 08/31/11 at 11:57 PM ET

Baroque's avatar

And I’m with Evilpens and Hank1974. Fighting is such a risk factor in concussions, depression, and premature death that it just can’t be kept in the game now. It would be like deliberately allowing unsafe work conditions to persist when everyone knows how to reduce chances of injury and death.

Any fun that come out of watching a fight isn’t worth the lasting damage it does to the men who actually do it. It takes a toll on them emotionally when they play, and a physical toll on them even many years later. Those poor young men. :(

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 09/01/11 at 12:01 AM ET

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This has been a terrible summer for these type of stories.  It is not just hockey enforcers either. 

This story broke locally last week.

http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/2011/08/26/v-print/1707570/flanagan-death-ruled-suicide-by.html

He was baseball roylaty around these parts.

And this was a professional athlete that had a “soft landing” after his career.
Maybe there is no such thing

Posted by Cubanpuckstopper on 09/01/11 at 12:27 AM ET

Hank1974's avatar

Any fun that come out of watching a fight isn’t worth the lasting damage
it does to the men who actually do it. It takes a toll on them emotionally
when they play, and a physical toll on them even many years later. Those
poor young men. :(

That’s what I don’t get. What rational, caring human being wants to see things continue as status-quo?
Is watching two goons arrange fights on Twitter, or before a faceoff really worth keeping in the NHL if it leads to concussions, substance abuse, depression or even death????

If you’re reading this article and thinking “Hogwash! Goons need to stay in the NHL” then I hope you’re reading it from a rubber-room or a jail cell.
I don’t want you on the streets anywhere near me or my family.

Posted by Hank1974 on 09/01/11 at 12:34 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’ll speak up as being what I consider a rational, caring human being who also enjoys fighting in hockey.

Let me stop for a second to clarify that I don’t support goons in hockey and I don’t support pre-staged fights.  If we could somehow lose that part of the hockey culture while still allowing the moment to give rise to the kind of cathartic hockey fights I actually do like to watch, then I would flip that switch or push that button in an instant.

I guess that aside means that I don’t fit the criteria above, because I don’t necessarily want things to stay as “status quo”.  However, there are a lot of dangerous and entertaining jobs which I am willing to watch other men choose to take the risk in order to do.  Those “poor young men” choose what they’re doing. That doesn’t diminish for one second the tragedies we’ve seen this summer. But, my interest in saving grown men from themselves goes exactly as far as their willingness does.

I’m willing to accept change in the NHL as soon as the players are. We may very well be getting there very soon.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/01/11 at 01:00 AM ET

Lindas1st's avatar

It used to be hockey players fought. Then came the 80’s with Gretzky and his personal protection (Semenko & McSorely) and this led to players just tuning away from fights and having a tougher player jump in for them. The fans loved it. It got the crowd psyched and it gave the home team a shot of adrenalin. The coaches realized what these fights were doing for the home team, so they started to use a roster spot for a designated fighter (Goon. Cement Head). He (the coach) would send him out (when the team looked a little off) to fight the other team’s Goon, that would get the crowd going, and then the team motivated. And this has led directly to these staged fights by so-called players who get 3 minutes of ice-time a night. The fights have evovled into this stupid exibition. If fans love these staged fights so much, they should just go watch some MMA.
Now, I have no problem with 2 players who are battling , get frustrated and drop thier gloves. That’s always been part of hockey. The problem is we might just have to get rid of all fighting to end this staged shit. Because the staged fights have to stop. We’re losing good people.


Rest in Peace Mr. Belak

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 09/01/11 at 01:00 AM ET

Avatar

Let me stop for a second to clarify that I don’t support goons in hockey and I don’t support pre-staged fights.  If we could somehow lose that part of the hockey culture while still allowing the moment to give rise to the kind of cathartic hockey fights I actually do like to watch, then I would flip that switch or push that button in an instant.

Sounds nice, but the problem is, escalation leads inexorably to enforcers. I’d be willing to do away with staged, bareknuckled ‘pro’ bouts and keep the “Alex Ovechkin awkwardly jumps Brandon Dubinsky which is awesome to watch but nobody dies 10 years later” or ‘Tyler Wright has a midget fight with Darcy Tucker” if somebody could tell me what rule would make that a reality.

As a fan of boxing since I was very young, I always knew a lot of those guys had problems, but I also knew a lot of those guys were escaping situations where they were quite literally homeless and living like animals. I always figured these guys killed themselves (Arguello, Billy Collins, Valero), became addicted to drugs (Hatton, Morrison, ODLH, Tyson, Spadafora, Pavlik) or abused/shot their family members (Spadafora, Collins, Tyson, Gatti, Valero. about a billion other guys) because many of them were street rats who weren’t raised in stable environments.

But I’m starting to think that’s not why so many boxers are so screwed up. I’m seeing parallels here among hockey goons, linemen, pro-wrestlers and these guys in Boxing and it isn’t in the upbringing. It’s that guys who get bludgeoned in the head repeatedly by professional fighters seem to go crazy at an abnormally high rate.

I’m still fine with this in boxing: at worst, a lot of boxers are trading one type of premature destruction for a better type of premature destruction (providing a 3rd path is not boxing’s issue).

But when I read hockey articles like this, knowing what we’re starting to know about head injuries, I find myself wondering if something I love watching should be abolished because of the monstrous systemic issues it creates across the sport. I would not have even considered this line of thinking two years ago.

Without a job where he got punched in the head (exacerbating brain damage from a motorcycle accident), there’s a good chance Edwin Valero would be dead anyway, just because of the situation he was born into. Would Kordic be? I’m not so sure?

Posted by steviesteve on 09/01/11 at 01:54 AM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

Read my post in the previous article hank.. same team

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/01/11 at 02:19 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I’d be willing to do away with staged, bareknuckled ‘pro’ bouts and keep the “Alex Ovechkin awkwardly jumps Brandon Dubinsky which is awesome to watch but nobody dies 10 years later” or ‘Tyler Wright has a midget fight with Darcy Tucker” if somebody could tell me what rule would make that a reality.

Supplemental discipline.

There were 38 players in the NHL last season who hit double-digits in fighting majors

source: Hockeyfights.com

84 players got five or more. Looking at the list, there are a bunch of them who didn’t have more fights simply because they weren’t up with the big club for enough games.

Simple solution is to suspend a player on his fifth fighting major. 

For guys who don’t spend enough games, it goes by a simple formula. If at the end of the season, you have more than 1 fight per 21 games played, you’re suspended.

EVERY SINGLE TIME a player gets suspended for breaking the fighting limits, his coach is suspended for a game and fined and the organization is also fined.

Fighting suspensions start at a minimum of five games.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/01/11 at 02:32 AM ET

Avatar

stop being hypocrites.  staged or not staged, designated goon or bona fide player, taking a fist and smashing it in another human beings head and face NEEDS TO STOP.  the evidence is there for all to see.  can’t have it both ways.

Posted by Eric on 09/01/11 at 03:20 AM ET

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And this nonsense that it has always been a part of hockey is just that - nonsense.  no other team sport tolerates it and they battle just as much as hockey players.

Posted by Eric on 09/01/11 at 03:24 AM ET

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Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/01/11 at 12:32 AM ET

All you’ve done is set the circumstances up such that it would create Enforcer puppy mills. Godard gets to 5 fights, gets sent down and Shoebottom comes up until he gets to 5 fights, goes down, then Mirasty comes up, repeat. Basically, all that’s happening here is that guys with difficult jobs just got a pay cut.

The bit about suspend a guy (and his coach) if he has 1 fight in less than 21 games is unenforceable and unfair. So Horton fights Callahan in game 1 and blows his MCL and ACL in game 2, effectively ending his season. He should be suspended for this why? Heck, if he gets injured in the fight, he’s being suspended for losing the fight. That’s nintendo logic.

Posted by steviesteve on 09/01/11 at 03:54 AM ET

CMo44's avatar

Good job, Paul for not jumping the gun on a story like this.  It’s shows a lot of restraint to not start posting everything you hear, especially on a big story like this.  I don’t think many other sites would do the same.  Respect.

Posted by CMo44 on 09/01/11 at 04:35 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

They may choose to fight. They may choose to deal with broken bones, titanium plates, knee surgeries, rehab from back injuries, and pain later in life.

No one signed on for lasting mental disability and a death in their mid-30s leaving their children without a father.

The price they are being asked to pay is not the price they agreed to when they signed on to the job. The danger is not what they believed it was.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 09/01/11 at 07:12 AM ET

edillac's avatar

not to be disrespectfull,but getting hit in the head,very hard hittinng mind you,repeatedly for years and years is very dangerous for a persons health;immediate and future.Dont need no scientific,long-term data to be sure of that.
So,why is everyone so surprised at the stuff that is happening?And I dont mean the people commenting here,but on some other sites where they persecute anyone who dares to speak of a correlation between being hit in the head and suffering depression,serious neurological illnesses or commiting suicide.

Posted by edillac from isolation on 09/01/11 at 08:31 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

All you’ve done is set the circumstances up such that it would create Enforcer puppy mills. Godard gets to 5 fights, gets sent down and Shoebottom comes up until he gets to 5 fights, goes down, then Mirasty comes up, repeat. Basically, all that’s happening here is that guys with difficult jobs just got a pay cut.

The bit about suspend a guy (and his coach) if he has 1 fight in less than 21 games is unenforceable and unfair. So Horton fights Callahan in game 1 and blows his MCL and ACL in game 2, effectively ending his season. He should be suspended for this why? Heck, if he gets injured in the fight, he’s being suspended for losing the fight. That’s nintendo logic.

Posted by steviesteve on 09/01/11 at 01:54 AM ET

As with all “mandatory” suspensions, the league commissioner has the authority to decide whether to follow it in any given circumstance or not. It would be bad if he chose to allow Horton in your example to serve a suspension, but I’d rather have that happen than have fighting disappear altogether.

I do not accept that “ban all fighting” has to be the solution to this.  So instead of just calling it stupid, how about thinking of a way to make it work for you that’s not reactionary?

If enforcer puppy mills are the problem, then institute a team limit for fighting majors on the season. Once a team crosses that limit, each fight comes out of their pocketbook and out of their coach’s wallet.  more than half the league had more than 40 fights last season. The low number was 13.  Set the number at 20 and see how many puppy mills we get when a team is only allowed to have a fight every fourth game.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/01/11 at 10:17 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

No one signed on for lasting mental disability and a death in their mid-30s leaving their children without a father.

The price they are being asked to pay is not the price they agreed to when they signed on to the job. The danger is not what they believed it was.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 09/01/11 at 05:12 AM ET

This is not a price; this is a risk.  Don’t confuse the two.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 09/01/11 at 10:21 AM ET

Avatar

Please lets not have a Knee Jerk reaction to this. If Fighting was truly the reason these men were dying they Boxers would be passing away as well.

Posted by Jason from michigan on 09/01/11 at 12:09 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

I think over time its becoming clear that its a price and not a risk.. a risk is something MIGHT happen.. Probie was fine and capable.. heart attack.. but after looking at his brain it was clear there was trauma.. its becoming understood this is something that does happen and not might happen.

Im with you don’t want to see fights leave the game but I want genuine heat of the moment.. not boxers on skates..

I think the Wings have recognized the issues that come with the role and that’s why we haven’t had a true pugilist since dmac and why when we get a player who “has a mean streak” they all of a sudden drop fighting from they bag of tricks. 

However I love that datsyuk and Perry went at it and id hate to lose that aspect of it but it shouldn’t have its own niche anymore

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/01/11 at 12:14 PM ET

HockeytownOverhaul's avatar

2 of the 3 deaths this year were suicides.. boxers do have mental issues from brain contusions.. listen to how half of the older retired ones talk.. upper canadien posted some great links to the exact topic you’re talking about.. steviesteve posted some good info on boxers too.. go read them Jason

Posted by HockeytownOverhaul on 09/01/11 at 12:17 PM ET

cs6687's avatar

I’m all for eliminating fighting, but the NHL needs to get rid of headshots first. Fighting, with the exception of staged fights, is the primary and accepted form of retaliation for defending your teammates. If fighting is eliminated without headshots being addressed by setting a discipline standard, it’s very possible a scenario can occur where Team A has a player absorb a headshot, Team B is left without a non-dangerous form of retaliation. The only way to do so is to administer a headshot or other cheap shot of their own.

Posted by cs6687 on 09/01/11 at 02:53 PM ET

Avatar

I do not accept that “ban all fighting” has to be the solution to this.  So instead of just calling it stupid, how about thinking of a way to make it work for you that’s not reactionary?

That’s my whole point. ‘Get rid of goonfights but keep heat of the moment fights between normal players is a nice theory’, but I can’t think of any way to put that into practice, nor has anyone else, short of GMs making a 30 man, smoky room agreement not to have enforcers, which might constitute collusion. Even then, this agreement disappears the moment the first guy breaches it.

Posted by steviesteve on 09/01/11 at 03:09 PM ET

cs6687's avatar

AP reports Belak hanged himself.

http://www.wtov9.com/sports/29050593/detail.html

Posted by cs6687 on 09/01/11 at 03:10 PM ET

awould's avatar

I enjoy hockey fights but really don’t care if they’re done away with. Banning fighting will not make me less of a fan and I really can’t imagine the game changing drastically. I’d be interested to see how the sport evolved if fighting were banned.

I also agree, however, with what someone said about caring about these players to the extent they care about themselves. The Messier M11 helmet that is available to all players provides greater protection (based on their claims about the science behind it) and some players apparently won’t wear it because it either looks stupid or they don’t want to be seen as pu**ies for wearing extra protection.  I think a player can get used to any change.

In the future, I bet visors are mandated too. Most players hate them, but most players hated helmets back in the day too. Nobody complains about it now.

Posted by awould on 09/01/11 at 03:24 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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