Belak found dead in Toronto condo

Wade Belak sits on the bench during Maple Leafs practice at the Air Canada Centre, April 27, 2004....

Wade Belak sits on the bench during Maple Leafs practice at the Air Canada Centre, April 27, 2004. (ALEX UROSEVIC/QMI Agency)

IAN ROBERTSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:43 AM ET

TORONTO - Former Toronto Maple Leafs enforcer Wade Belak was found dead in his downtown Toronto condo Wednesday, sources say.

He is the latest in a line of several NHL pugilists who died over the past decade from unusual circumstances, including suicide, alcohol and drug abuse.

Belak reportedly took his life, according to sources.

Belak, 35, who had just signed on for the popular Battle of the Blades TV show, was found dead at his condo at 1 King St. W. around 1:33 p.m., the source said.

Three police cars and a forensics van sat outside an entrance of the building he was staying at while taking part in the show.

Belak's family lives in Nashville, Tenn.

There was a heavy police presence on the building's 23rd floor. Security personnel stood guard in the middle of the hallway, and ran to get police from one of the floor's suites when a reporter stepped off the elevator.

Born in 1976 in Saskatoon, Belak began his NHL career in 1996 with the Colorado Avalanche, played three years with the Calgary Flames and spent seven seasons as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played two years with the Florida Panthers and had been with the Nashville Predators since 2008.

Known more for using his fists than stick-handling, the 6-foot-5, 223-pounder, played 549 NHL games, scoring eight goals and 33 points, racking up 1,263 penalty minutes.

Hockey fans at the Real Sports Bar expressed shock at the tragic news.

"I was ... saddened," said David LeBlank, 27. "You know how young he was and that he was well liked in Toronto."

Leaf fan Dan Albrecht said Belak was loved during his time on the Maple Leafs.

"I never heard anyone say anything bad about him," said Albrecht. "He was an enforcer, but to get to the NHL, you have to have skill ... It's a tough job."

Other NHL enforcers who died before their time, include:

- Canadian-born John Kordic was 27 when the Quebec Nordiques player died Aug. 8, 1992 from lung failure and a heart malfunction after overdosing on drugs and being involved in a struggle with police at a motel in Quebec City.

- Windsor native Bob Probert, 45, suffered chest pains while boating with family on Lake St. Clair on July 5, 2010. Retired from the Chicago Blackhawks, his career was clouded by a prison term for cocaine possession, terms in rehab and an on-ice reputation as one of the Bruise Brothers.

- Former New York Rangers player Derek Boogaard, was almost 29 when he died May 13. Called the Boogeyman and Mountie for his reputation as a fighter, the Saskatoon native was voted second most intimidating NHLer. His death was ruled accidental. A medical examiner determined he consumed a lethal mix of alcohol and oxycodone.

- Born in 1984 in Blairmore, Alta., Rick Rypien, spent the last six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks and was due to start with the reborn Winnipeg Jets this fall, after signing a $700,000 deal. His death at home two weeks ago, on Aug. 15, was ruled a suicide.

-- With files by Jack Boland


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