NHL

Former NHL enforcer Belak found dead

Wade Belak, Nashville Predators
Wade Belak played 14 seasons in the NHL.
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)

Former Predator Wade Belak, an enforcer who had played with five NHL teams before retiring in March, was found dead Wednesday in Toronto.

The Predators learned of Belak's death from NHL security and the team issued a statement saying the organization was shocked and sadden by his sudden and untimely death.

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''Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed,'' according to the Predators' statement. ''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.''

Toronto police spokesman Tony Vella said officers found a man dead when called at 1:40 p.m. EDT Wednesday at a hotel and condo complex. Vella said ''foul play is not suspected in the ongoing investigation'' into Belak's death.

The 35-year-old Belak was scheduled to work as a sideline reporter on Nashville television broadcasts this upcoming season. The 6-foot-5, 233-pound forward played for Colorado, Calgary, Toronto, Florida and finished his career with Nashville, playing in 549 career NHL games with 1,263 penalty minutes and 33 points.

Belak is the third current or former NHL player found dead this offseason.

Winnipeg's Rick Rypien, 27, was found dead earlier this month at his home in Alberta, Canada, after a police official said a call was answered for a ''sudden and non-suspicious'' death. Former Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May at the age of 28 due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.

After Rypien's death, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said he expected the NHL to review its substance abuse and behavioral health program.

Predators forward Blake Geoffrion sent his prayers to Belak's family on Twitter.

''Wade Belak was one of funniest dudes I had ever met. Just was with him earlier this summer. Can't believe it,'' Geoffrion tweeted.

Bettman released a statement calling Belak a player who competed every minute of his 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,'' Bettman said.

Executive director Don Fehr issued a statement sending condolences to Belak's family from 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.

Tagged: Predators, Wade Belak

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