Retired Leafs enforcer Wade Belak found dead
Published Wednesday, August 31, 2011 9:14PM EDT
Recently retired National Hockey League enforcer Wade Belak was found dead in a downtown Toronto hotel on Wednesday. A spokesperson with the Nashville Predators, Belak's last NHL team, confirmed the news.
He was 35.
Details have not been released as to the cause of death, but police said they are still investigating.
Toronto police responded to a call around 1:30 p.m. at One King West, an upscale hotel and condominium complex, where they found a man in his 30s without vital signs. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Police did not say whether the man was found in a hotel room or in a residential suite, and they did not release his name. Police did not say who made the 911 call.
Belak, a Saskatoon native, was set to take part in the third season of the reality program "Battle of the Blades."
He retired after 15 seasons -- a career that included stops with the Colorado Avalanche, the Calgary Flames, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators.
David Poile, the Predators' general manager, said in a statement that the entire Nashville hockey organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of the NHL tough guy.
"Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed," Poile said.
"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."
Craig Button, the former general manager of the Calgary Flames when Belak was a team member there early in his career, echoed Poile's remarks. He told The Canadian Press "he was a guy that on the ice his teammates loved him because he was there to fight the fights, so to speak."
He added that "off the ice, everybody loved him because he was an outgoing, gregarious guy."
Shortly after news broke that Belak's body had been found, thousands of messages flooded Twitter and by early evening, at least 10 Belak memorial pages had been created on Facebook.
Belak's death comes less than a month after Winnipeg Jets Rick Rypien was found dead. The 27-year-old forward was found in his off-season home in Crowsnest Pass, Alta.
In May, New York Rangers forward Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment because of an accidental mix of alcohol and oxycodene, a painkiller. He was 28.
With files from The Canadian Press