Published September 01, 2011
TORONTO – Former NHL player Wade Belak hanged himself, according to a person familiar with the case.
Belak, an enforcer who had played with five NHL teams before retiring in March, was found dead Wednesday in Toronto. He was 35.
The person familiar with Belak's death said he hanged himself at a downtown luxury hotel and condo building. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Thursday because details of the investigation were confidential.
"At this point it's non-suspicious," Toronto police spokesman Tony Vella said Thursday. "We will not provide any further information on a non-suspicious case."
Belak is the third NHL enforcer found dead since May.
The body of 27-year-old Rick Rypien of the Winnipeg Jets was discovered earlier this month at his home in Alberta after a police official said a call was answered for a "sudden and non-suspicious" death. Former New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May at 28 due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.
"It's not only about the deaths, it's the deaths that surround similar type players," Craig Button, the general manager of the Calgary Flames when Belak played there early in his career, told The Canadian Press. "It's not just getting hit in the head, it's everything that goes with that (enforcer) role. I think that people are paying very, very serious attention to concussions and blows to the head and the role of the enforcer.
"I don't think anybody can stop until we really understand the impact it has not only physically, but emotionally as well."
Belak was scheduled to work as a sideline reporter on Nashville television broadcasts this 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 eight goals, 25 assists and 1,263 penalty minutes.
He fought 136 times during his 14-year NHL career, according to hockeyfights.com.