Former NHL player Wade Belak has been found dead in his condominium in Toronto. Belak, who played in parts of 14 seasons with five NHL teams, was 35 years old.
A source with the Nashville Predators confirmed the news. Belak finished his career with the Predators and remained with the team in an organizational role following his retirement.
According to reports, the cause of death was not immediately known, but foul play was not suspected.
The Predators released the following statement Wednesday: "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."
Born on July 3, 1976 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Belak was originally drafted in the first round (No. 12) by the Quebec Nordiques in 1994. After the franchise moved to Colorado in 1995 and was rechristened as the Avalanche, Belak appeared in 35 games for the team over three seasons, but didn't get sustained playing time until appearing in 40 games for the Calgary Flames in the 1999-2000 season. After splitting the 2000-01 season between Calgary and Toronto, Belak remained with the Maple Leafs until 2008, when he was traded to Florida for a fifth-round draft pick. In November 2008, Belak was dealt to Nashville in exchange for Nick Tarnasky.
He spent the remainder of his career with the Predators before being waived on Feb. 25, 2011. After clearing waivers, Belak announced his retirement on March 8, 2011.
Belak could play either forward or defense, and his primary role was as an enforcer, accruing 1,263 PIMs in his career. While his offensive numbers were modest -- Belak had 8 goals and 25 assists in 549 games -- he was considered an affable and easy-going personality who was popular with the Toronto media and among fans. Belak had hosted a short series on Canada's BiteTV known as The Wade Belak Show and was scheduled to participate on CBC's upcoming season of Battle of the Blades. During his time in Nashville, Belak hosted a radio show on 104.5 FM "The Zone" also called The Wade Belak Show.
In a statement Wednesday evening, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said, "The National Hockey League family mourns the passing of Wade Belak, who competed to the utmost every minute of his NHL 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."