Former NHL Predators’ enforcer Wade Belak, was found dead Wednesday in a hotel in Toronto. The 35-year-old retired from the team in March and was preparing to work as a sideline reporter on Nashville television broadcasts this season.
According to Toronto police spokesman Tony Vella, officers found his body when called at 1:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday to a hotel and condo complex. He had been scheduled to appear on TSN Radio with Bryan Hayes on Wednesday afternoon, but Belak never arrived. Vella stated that ”foul play is not suspected in the ongoing investigation” into Belak’s death.
Executive director Don Fehr issued the following statement to Belak’s family on behalf of the NHL Players’ Association:
”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,” Fehr said.
Belak leaves behind his wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex.
Check back for updates. The cause and manner of death will not be available until after an autopsy is performed.
Belak is the third NHL enforcer found dead since May. What is going on here? What should the NHL be doing to prevent these tragedies?
Wade Belak’s death has been ruled a suicide. Police apparently found that Belak had hung himself.
The NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the NHL Player Association Executive Director Donald Fehr released a joint statement about the multiple tragedies:
“While the circumstances of each case are unique, these tragic events cannot be ignored. We are committed to examining, in detail, the factors that may have contributed to these events, and to determining whether concrete steps can be taken to enhance player welfare and minimize the likelihood of such events taking place.”
This latest rash of suicides by NHL players once again brings up the question of whether any of these players suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)—a degenerative brain disease linked with repeated hard hits to the head. We have done several stories about this in the past: