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The Upper Canadien

Wade Belak gone at 35

According to QMI and various other sources.

How many enforcers have to die before the NHL recognizes that post concussion syndrome is a serious, serious issue?

Rest in peace Wade. You were one of the good guys.

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Lindas1st's avatar

Not another one! For goodness sake.

Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 08/31/11 at 07:11 PM ET

Da lil Guy's avatar

Terrible. Don’t want to hear anymore stories like this…

...no history of concussions, per TSN player page.

Posted by Da lil Guy from Guelph, Ontario on 08/31/11 at 07:27 PM ET


Not sure the NHL was diagnosing concussions properly, say, ten years ago. Not sure they are doing it now.

But getting punched in the head repeatedly…just saying.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/31/11 at 07:33 PM ET


This is the worst kind of speculation! Predict you will end up looking like a fool. But then this is the Internet why let a little thing like no facts get in your way, right?

Posted by Bob from USA on 08/31/11 at 07:41 PM ET


Bob from USA: It’s not speculation…it happened six blocks from where I live, a co-worker lives four floors above where it happened, and I walked past the hoards of cops/media after a meeting two hours ago. Therefore, I predict, sadly, that I will end up looking perfectly sane/intelligent/what is the opposite of fool, anyhow?

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/31/11 at 08:47 PM ET


Now post concussion syndrome causing suicide, bit of a stretch…

He might have felt hopeless that the NHL turned their back on him and all of the enforcers.

Probably drugs and alcohol!

Posted by Wayne from Pittsburgh on 08/31/11 at 09:28 PM ET


I don’t think bob was talking about speculating that Belak is dead. He’s talking about speculating that concussions had anything to do with this.  It really is irresponsible to jump to that conclusion simply because Belak was a fighter. He rarely got hit hard in his fights and has not had a history of concussions. RIP big #3!

Posted by Chiva on 08/31/11 at 09:30 PM ET


Chiva and Wayne: Understand your opinion, but if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck…I have seen friends suffer head injuries. It can change your personality. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that professional athletes who suffer blows to the head continue to suffer untimely deaths. Whether it was the end reason or not, who knows? I’m not a coroner. But contributing factor? I’m concerned enough about head hits in hockey at this point to throw my hat in that corner.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/31/11 at 09:49 PM ET


HockeytownOverhaul: I completely agree. Although on the football side, more and more retired players are being diagnosed with neurological disorders, many are dying. Perhaps the most publicized, in Canada, was Terry Proudfoot, who documented his battle in regular columns, right up until the day he died.

For those who perhaps have not heard of Tony Proudfoot, a real hero in my eyes, feel free to peruse this:


Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/31/11 at 09:58 PM ET


And you don’t see football players doing this and they probably get their share and you don’t see “skilled” forwards in the news.. something has to be said for the role of the fighter in the nhl

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

I think it just doesn’t get reported.

From the wikipedia article for a Steeler lineman who went crazy, shot at police and wrecked into a tractor trailer


The cases involve former Philadelphia Eagles safety Andre Waters and three former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive linemen: Mike Webster, Terry Long and Strzelczyk. Waters and Long committed suicide; Webster died of a heart attack, but suffered from severe mental problems in his later life. Omalu says each death followed a similar line: football concussions, leading to brain damage similar to dementia pugilistica (also known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in boxers, leading to clinical depression.

Suicide and violent behavior has long been associated with Boxing, but, in years past, it was easier to tie a line between that and upbringing. While many football players are from trailers or the projects, which isn’t exactly ideal, many boxers (especially foreign ones) had homeless, feral, criminal upbringings, which made it easy to connect the dots to that instead of the damage incurred in the sport.

As more and more is learned about head injuries, and we see Alexis Arguello or Mike Tyson behavior in everything from Stage Wrestling (previously blamed on steroids) to Hockey fights (can’t blame that on steroids), the ‘upbringing’ explanation looks more and more incorrect. Brain Trauma seems to be the common thread uniting all these things.

Posted by steviesteve on 08/31/11 at 10:22 PM ET


Although on the football side, more and more retired players are being diagnosed with neurological disorders, many are dying. Perhaps the most publicized, in Canada, was Terry Proudfoot, who documented his battle in regular columns, right up until the day he died.

Might be worth pointing out that ALS is caused by concussion-related proteins getting stuck in the spine. For some reason, far less people know that than should.

Posted by steviesteve on 08/31/11 at 10:28 PM ET


steviesteve: a common thread that, unfortunately, too many fans and members of the professional sporting arena are willing to ignore to continue being entertained and making money.

Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 08/31/11 at 10:28 PM ET


Is the sudden rash of deaths to NHL tough guys a symptom of being involved in alot of fights, or a charactoristic of the type personality that it takes to drop the gloves.  The one thing I remember growing up and playing hockey, was that the guys that tended to drop the gloves, were usually the guys that lived more on the edge in their private lives and pushed the envelope.  They were usually the guys that got into trouble, drank and occassionally did drugs.  The tough guy on our high school hockey team died in a car accident.  He was drunk behind the wheel and was known as a partier.

Posted by Roger Leonidas from los Angeles on 09/01/11 at 01:01 AM ET


The Upper Canadian: My father also struggled with the ravages of ALS for a little over 3 years before he died. That article by Tony Proudfoot brought back all the memories of watching and helping him cope with the disease and how, despite his strong will and spirit, his body betrayed him until he could no longer deny it.

Posted by wingsluver4ever from TC on 09/01/11 at 01:23 AM ET


Wingsluver4ever: My sympathies. Proudfoot is extremely inspiring, and a lot of his writing is online. You should take a look.

Also, for everyone, CNN has picked up the story this evening:


Posted by The Upper Canadien from Toronto on 09/01/11 at 08:16 PM ET

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About The Upper Canadien

The Upper Canadien is your one stop shop for all things Montreal Canadiens. Since the summer of 2010, I've been providing Habs related news, notes, and most importantly, opinions. As a blogger, I don't believe it's my job to report the news, it's my privilege to comment on it. You may disagree with what I suggest. In fact, you most likely will. But that's the great part about blogging: it spurs opinion, comment and engages all involved. I've really enjoyed all the debate and commentary from readers thus far and I encourage everyone to respond with ideas on lineups, trades, logos, sweaters, mascots, whatever. The Upper Canadien is a conversation for all hockey fanatics.

I've come to Kukla's Korner with four years of campus radio and three years of sportswriting from my time at Mount Allison University on Canada's East coast. Not only do I not have any professional journalistic training, after five years in the corporate world, I've spent much of the past two years completing an MBA. Business by day, hockey by night, I'm a Canadiens fan through and through. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I do writing.

Questions or comments? theuppercanadien@kuklaskorner.com