Wade Belak blows his wife and daughter a kiss
The sun has set and I'm still crying. As I write this piece, tears fall from my face and hit my keyboard. The feeling in my stomach is familiar to the one I had when my Uncle Archie died. It's gut-wrenching.
Earlier today, retired NHLer Wade Belak was found dead in his Toronto home, leaving the hockey world speechless. Numerous reports coming from multiple outlets are saying different things, but we have no way of knowing forsure at this time what happened to the former Maple Leaf.
I was checking my email when my mom told me the news. "Do you know a Wade Belak?", she asked. When I said yes, she told me that some people were updating their Facebook statuses with things like "RIP Belak" and "Rest in Peace Wade". My heart sank immediately. I went to Twitter and everyone was speculating on the news. No one was certain yet, but the seeds were planted -- we feared the worst.
Then the "Breaking News" came on the screen for Sportscentre: "Wade Belak found dead"...that was when the tears started. I sat in my chair for fifteen minutes crying, wondering how it could happen. He was one of my favourite players growing up, and now he was gone.
He was the kind of player that most kids my age are fans of -- tough, rugged, big, strong, but kind off the ice. He knew that he wasn't an everyday player, having never played a full NHL season (65 in 2006-07 with the Leafs), and often poked fun at himself for seldom scoring goals -- he had eight over a fourteen year career.
I loved him. And once I found out the news, and got the initial crying out of the way, I searched him on Youtube. I watched endless clips of his old fights, some of which I remember punch-for-punch, and some that I had never seen before. Once I stumbled upon the famous bout with Cam Janssen (after the Kaberle hit), I started crying again. The chants of "BEE-LAK BEE-LAK" gave me goosebumps, making me wish I could see him play once again.
Wade was known for loving his children and being a great father
I logged off for a few minutes, trying to get some air, gaining composure. I signed on again, and saw a few pictures of Belak and his children (see Above). The tears came again. Seeing him blow a kiss to both his daughter and wife, it made me sink my head into my arms, more tissues being grabbed for more tears, with moments of uncontrollable sobbing.
I found one more video of Wade that, for some reason, didn't make me cry. His first goal in God-knows-when against Nashville, I put my hands up when the puck went into the net. I laughed while the announcers laughed, and I smiled when every other face in the video did the same.
That is how I want to remember Wade Belak; classic fights, the rare goal, and memorable interviews that put a grin on my mug. Whatever led to his death, I hope that Wade is finally at rest, and that however he was taken from us, he is in a better place.
Rest in Place, Mr. Belak.