August 31, 2011 will forever be notorious. On that day, former Nashville Predator Wade Belak committed suicide in his hotel in Toronto. Belak was in Toronto for the CBC’s “Battle of the Blades”, which is a figure skating show. Also, he was supposed to be a color analyst on the Predators’ Radio Network.
Here at Fang Faction, we will remember that day for the rest of our lives. So, we -the writers- have combined our writing into this post.
Ryan Shannon, a Nashville native, wrote this about his memories on Belak and that dreadful day.
Wade Belak- a friend to all, a stranger to none. In a society that places athletes on a pedestal- usually not unwillingly- a National Hockey League player being described as such is rare and refreshing.
Wade Belak wasn’t a regular guy, but he was.
We lost a star on August 31, 2011- not a star goal-scorer, not a star play-maker and not even a star enforcer but a star person. I’m not going to pretend I personally knew Wade Belak, but that’s the thing. You didn’t have to know him personally to know that he was a world-class human being. It resonated from locker rooms around the NHL, the Nashville Predators broadcast booth and those nearest to him in the days and weeks following the tragedy of his passing.
One year later, I just now realize how vividly I remember that Wednesday evening. I was at church and was about to go to our weekly youth service when I received a text from two of my friends and fellow Pred fans asking me if I had heard “the news” concerning Wade Belak. I had initially thought that they were referring to Belak’s new weekly radio show on 102.5 The Game to which I had just listened a couple of days earlier. But I got the sense that they were talking about something different, something much more significant. So I investigated by checking Twitter. Of course, it was all anyone was talking about, and as I realized what “the news” was, my heart dropped into my stomach. I could not and even more so did not want to believe it, but it was.
I would be speaking out of school if I were to comment on how Wade Belak died, but one thing is for certain: Everyone should be on the look out for signs of depression. It is common, dangerous and it affects people whom you would never suspect.
We all wish Wade Belak was still here, sharing his humor and insight with Pred fans. I selfishly wish I could have had the privilege to get to know him better.
Ray Harris, living in New Brunswick, shared his thoughts on Belak’s death.
It was very sad and surprising news. He was such a loved personality on and off the ice; with and without the Predators. He had played well with the team and did the jersey proud. I’m very sure he’s missed around the NHL.
One of the most humbling moments in the NHL, in my eyes, was the Nashville Predators vs Pittsburgh Penguins game where Scott Sullivan and the rest of the Penguins wore his number on their helmets.
Belak was an addition to a awful summer that forced us to consider the life of an enforcer post career.
Fang Finger, also living in Nashville, shared his thoughts.
On that day, it was very vague from what I remember. However, I do remember the sinking of my heart and the tearing up in my eyes -as I am doing writing this story. I also remember going to school the next day with everyone wearing a Wade Belak player shirt, or having a RIP Belak sign.
Just a couple of weeks before his suicide, I saw him at a local ice rink practicing for the Battle of the Blade’s show mentioned earlier. He said, “I hate these damn things,” when talking about his figure skates. Belak was skating with his daughter at the rink as well.
Wade Belak was a very kind person off the ice, but a much different person on the ice. On the ice, he was a mean guy who would knock you out if you weren’t careful.
The whole Nashville Predators community, including a lot of NHL fans across the league, will miss Belak and the energy he brought everywhere he went.