Yet another NHL enforcer has been found dead this off-season when it was announced that former Toronto Maple Leafs tough guy, Wade Belak, was found dead in a Toronto hotel Wednesday.
At just 35, Belak was a well known tough guy around the league and one of the more colourful hockey players on camera. Belak retired in March after an NHL career that included stops in Colorado, Calgary, Toronto, Florida and Nashville.
Belak’s death while disturbing, brings to light a another disturbing fact. Belak was the third NHL enforcer to die in the last four months.
First, Derek Boogard of the New York Rangers was found dead May 13 in Minneapolis. Then just over two weeks ago, Winnipeg Jets forward and former Vancouver Canucks tough guy Rick Rypien committed suicide in his home. And now Belak.
Boogard’s death was ruled to be due to an accidental overdose of prescription drugs. For Rypien, it came to light that the 27-year-old had battled depression for more than a decade.
We’ll have to wait and see what the story is with Belak, but Gary Bettman and the NHL need this type of publicity surrounding the league like they need Sidney Crosby injured for a whole season.