Wade Belak Found Dead



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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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:


      • 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.

      • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.