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Wade Belak
WBelak.jpg
Born July 3, 1976(1976-07-03)
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Died August 31, 2011(2011-08-31) (aged 35)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Height 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight 222 lb (101 kg; 15 st 12 lb)
Position Defence/forward
Shoots Right
Played for Colorado Avalanche
Calgary Flames
Toronto Maple Leafs
Coventry Blaze
Florida Panthers
Nashville Predators
NHL Draft 12th overall, 1994
Quebec Nordiques
Playing career 1996–2011

Wade Belak (born Wade William Belak on July 3, 1976) was a Canadian professional ice hockey forward and defenceman. He was drafted 12th overall by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

Wade played for the Colorado Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators in the NHL.

On August 31, 2011, he was found deceased in a Toronto apartment.

Playing CareerEdit

Saskatoon BladesEdit

When he was 16 years old, Wade made his WHL debut with the Saskatoon Blades as a 16 year old during the 1992-93 season, getting no points in seven games along with 23 PIM.

In seven playoff games, he had no points. He made the Blades as a full-time player in 1993-94, scoring four goals and 17 points in 69 games while recording a team high 226 PIM.

In 16 playoff games, Wade had two goals, four points and 43 PIM. After the season, he was drafted in the first round (12th overall) by the Quebec Nordiques in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.

In the 1994-95 season, Wade appeared in all 72 games, scoring four goals and 18 points while finished fourth in the league with 290 PIM. In the playoffs, he had no points in nine games, while recording 36 PIM.

He returned to the Blades for the 1995-96 season, scoring three goals and 18 points in 63 games while getting a team high 207 PIM.

In four playoff games, Wade had no points and nine penalty minutes.

Quebec Nordiques\Colorado AvalancheEdit

Wade made his professional debut during the 1994-95 AHL playoffs when the Quebec Nordiques assigned him to the Cornwall Aces. In 11 playoff games, he had a goal and three points, while getting 40 PIM.

During the 1995 off-season, the Nordiques relocated to Denver, Colorado and became the Colorado Avalanche.

In the 1995-96 season, Wade appeared in five regular season games with the Aces, getting no points, followed by two playoff games where he also had no points. He spent most of the 1996-97 season with the Hershey Bears where in 65 games, he had a goal and eight points as well as a team high 320 PIM. In 16 playoff games, Wade had an assist and 61 PIM.

On December 21, 1996, Wade made his NHL debut during the 1996-97 season with the Colorado Avalanche, getting no points in a 6-2 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Overall, he appeared in five games with Colorado, going pointless with 11 PIM. Wade began the 1997-98 with the Avalanche.

On October 22, 1997, he had a goal and assist against Olaf Kolzig of the Washington Capitals to record his first NHL points in a 4-3 win.

He had an injury plagued season, appearing in eight games with Colorado, getting two points and 27 PIM, while in 11 games with Hershey, Wade had no points and 30 PIM.

Wade began the 1998-99 in Colorado and in 22 games with the Avalanche, he had no points and 71 PIM. He also appeared in 17 games with Hershey, getting an assist and 49 PIM.

On February 28, 1999, the Avalanche traded Wade, Rene Corbet, Robyn Regehr, and the Avalanche's second round draft pick at the 2000 NHL Entry Draft to the Calgary Flames for Theoren Fleury and Chris Dingman.

Calgary FlamesEdit

Wade began his Calgary Flames career with the teams AHL affiliate, the Saint John Flames in the 1998-99 season, appearing in 12 games with Saint John, getting two assists and 43 PIM.

On March 27, 1999, he made his Calgary debut as he had no points in a 2-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

On April 1, 1999, Wade earned his first point as a Flame on April 1, 1999, getting an assist in a 4-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes.

Overall, he had an assist in nine games with Calgary. At the conclusion of the regular season, Wade was sent back to Saint John for the playoffs where he had an assist in six games, along with 23 PIM.

Wade spent the entire 1999-2000 in the NHL, where he appeared in 40 games with Calgary, recording two assists and a team high 122 PIM. He suffered a shoulder injury on February 10, 2000 against the Colorado Avalanche that made him miss six weeks of action.

He began the 2000-01 season with the Flames where in 23 games, he had no points and 79 PIM.

On February 16, 2001, the Toronto Maple Leafs claimed him off waivers.

Toronto Maple LeafsEdit

On February 17, 2001, Wade made his Toronto Maple Leafs debut, getting no points in a 5-5 tie against the Colorado Avalanche.

On February 25, 2001, he scored his first goal and point as a Maple Leaf on February 25, 2001, scoring against Jocelyn Thibault in a 6-4 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks.

It was his first goal since October 22, 1997 when he was a member of the Colorado Avalanche.

Wade finished the season appearing in 16 games with Toronto, scoring a goal and two points, as well as 31 PIM. He played in 63 games with Toronto during the 2001-02 season, scoring a goal and four points, while recording 142 PIM, which was second to Tie Domi on the team.

On April 18, 2002, Wade made his playoff debut, getting no points in a 3-1 win over the New York Islanders. On April 28, 2002, he scored his first playoff goal and point, scoring against Chris Osgood in a 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders.

Wade appeared in 16 playoff games for Toronto, getting one goal and 18 PIM. He had his most productive season during 2002-03 as he had three goals and nine points in 55 games, as well as a team high 196 PIM.

In the playoffs, he appeared in two games, getting no points and four penalty minutes.

Wade had an injury plagued 2003-04 season as he suffered an abdomen injury on November 20, 2003 against the Edmonton Oilers and a knee injury on January 6, 2004 against the Nashville Predators. He appeared in 39 games, getting a goal and two points, along with 110 PIM. In four playoff games, Wade had no points and 14 PIM.

During the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Wade signed with the Coventry Blaze of the EIHL. In 42 games with the Blaze, he had seven goals and 17 points and 178 PIM. In the playoffs, he had a goal and two points in eight games. After the season, he was named to the EIHL Second All-Star Team.

Wade returned to the Maple Leafs for the 2005-06 season. In 55 games, he had three assists and 109 PIM, second highest on the team. In the 2006-07 season, he appeared in 65 games with Toronto, getting three assists and 110 PIM, again finishing with the second highest penalty minute total on the Leafs.

Wade began the 2007-08 with the Maple Leafs. On December 4, 2007, he ended his 143 game scoreless drought as he scored against Chris Mason of the Nashville Predators in a 3-1 Maple Leafs win.

Wade played in 30 games with Toronto, scoring the lone goal while getting 66 PIM. On February 26, 2008, the Maple Leafs traded him to the Florida Panthers for the Panthers fifth round draft pick in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.

Florida PanthersEdit

Wade finished the 2007-08 with the Florida Panthers, playing in 17 games, getting no points and 12 PIM. His first game as a Panther was on February 27, 2008 against his former team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

He began the 2008-09 season with Florida, where in 15 games, he had no points 25 PIM. On November 27, 2008, the Panthers traded Wade to the Nashville Predators for Nick Tarnasky.

Nashville PredatorsEdit

Wade made his Predators debut during the 2008-09 season. On November 28, 2008, he suited up against the Atlanta Thrashers, earning no points.

On December 4, 2008, Wade recorded his first point as a Predator, getting an assist in a 3-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. He finished the season appearing in 38 games with Nashville, recording two assists, and 54 PIM.

In 2009-10, Wade returned to the Predators, getting two assists in 39 games as well as 58 PIM. He played his last season in the NHL in 2010-11, going pointless in 15 games with the Predators.

On February 25, 2011, the Predators placed him on waivers, but he went unclaimed, so the club then assigned him to the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL.

On March 8, 2011, Wade retired from professional hockey due to arthritis in the pelvis, but he remained with the Predators in a organizational role.

DeathEdit

On August 31, 2011 (at approximately 1:33 p.m.), Wade was found deceased in a condo at the One King Street West hotel in Toronto. The police didn't confirm a cause of Wade's death, but the Toronto Police treated his death as a suicide.

He was 35 years old and he was preparing to take part of the upcoming season of "Battle of the Blades." His death was the third in a series of NHL players found dead in a four-month span, following Derek Boogaard and Rick Rypien. Wade's mother stated that he had been suffering from depression.

Michael Landsberg reported that he had spoken with Wade one week before his death about their mutual depression and that Wade admitted having been on "happy pills" for the previous four to five years. Landsberg stated that Wade was agreeable to appearing in a documentary on celebrity depression that Landsberg was working on and going public about his condition.

On September 2, 2011, P.J. Stock suggested that Wade's death might not be suicide. "Let's just call it an accidental death right now, but he did die of strangulation," said Stock.

On September 21, 2011, Stock expressed regret for making those comments, explained that he did not have any information about Wade's death that was not public and said: "I just wanted to protect Wade, protect his family and his role in the game."

Wade's family members have stated that they believe his death was accidental. His funeral was held in Nashville with his friends, family and his former teammates in attendance.

Career StatisticsEdit

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1992–93 Saskatoon Blades WHL 70002370000
1993–94 Saskatoon Blades WHL 69413172261622443
1994–95 Saskatoon Blades WHL 7241418290900036
1994–95 Cornwall Aces AHL 1112340
1995–96 Saskatoon Blades WHL 633151820740009
1995–96 Cornwall Aces AHL 50001820002
1996–97 Colorado Avalanche NHL 500011
1996–97 Hershey Bears AHL 651783201601161
1997–98 Hershey Bears AHL 1100030
1997–98 Colorado Avalanche NHL 811227
1998–99 Hershey Bears AHL 1701149
1998–99 Colorado Avalanche NHL 2200071
1998–99 Saint John Flames AHL 1202243601123
1998–99 Calgary Flames NHL 901123
1999–00 Calgary Flames NHL 40022122
2000–01 Calgary Flames NHL 2300029
2000–01 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 1611231
2001–02 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 631341421610118
2002–03 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 5536919620004
2003–04 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 34112109400014
2004–05 Coventry Blaze EIHL 4271017178
2005–06 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 55033109
2006–07 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 65033110
2007–08 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 3010166
2007–08 Florida Panthers NHL 1700012
2008–09 Florida Panthers NHL 1500025
2008–09 Nashville Predators NHL 3802254
2009–10 Nashville Predators NHL 3902258
2010–11 Nashville Predators NHL 1500018
NHL totals 549 8 25 33 1263 22 1 0 1 36
WHL totals 211 11 42 53 746 36 2 2 4 88
AHL totals 110 1 10 11 460 35 1 4 5 126

Personal LifeEdit

Wade's parents are Lorraine & Lionel Aadland. Lorraine remarried to Barry Belak when Wade was four years old and they took his surname.

At the age of six, his family moved to Battleford where he attended St Vital's Catholic School, Battleford Junior High and North Battleford Comprehensive High School.

By the time he was 14 years old, Wade was aiming to become a certified lifeguard.

His younger brother, Graham, played in several lower-tier leagues and was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche (53rd overall) in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft even though he never played in the NHL.

On July 20, 2002, Wade married Jennifer Jordan Russell in Banff, Alberta. The couple had two daughters: one born in 2004 and one in 2006. They were both born in Toronto.

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