Breaking News: Former Nashville Predator Wade Belak Found Dead in Toronto

Russ GodekContributor IIIAugust 31, 2011

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 22: Wade Belak #3 of the Nashville Predators stretches along the bench prior to their NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks on December 22, 2009 at General Motors Place in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
Rich Lam/Getty Images

According to a Nashville Predators spokesman, Wade Belak was found dead today in Toronto.

The team released this statement:

“The entire Nashville Predators organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of Wade Belak. Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed. 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.”

The 35-year-old tough-nosed Belak spent 15 seasons in the NHL with Colorado, Calgary, Florida, Toronto and most recently, the Nashville Predators. During his NHL tenure of 549 games, he scored eight goals, collected 25 assists and managed to put up 1263 penalty minutes.

Belak, who was waived by the Predators after playing only 15 games for the NHL club last season, putting up 18 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating, retired on March 8, 2011, shortly after he was unclaimed off waivers.

Belak was an NHL veteran originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques (now the Colorado Avalanche) in the first round (12th overall) at the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

This is shocking and sad news that comes on the heels of tragic news earlier this month when former Vancouver Canucks player Rick Rypien was found dead in his home in Alberta on August 15th. Rypien, who had a history of battling depression, was found to have committed suicide.

Going back to late last season, New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment by his brother Aaron. Boogaard's death was ruled as an accidental overdose of pain medication and alcohol.

No cause of death for Belak was announced at this time. Regardless, this is more sad news in what has been a very depressing offseason for the hockey world.

The NHL and its fans' prayers are with Belak's family and friends tonight.

R.I.P. Wade.