#TBT a day of tribute to Wade Belak
July 3rd 1976, Wade Belak was born in St Paul's Hospital, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Lorraine and Lionel Aadland. Later when Wade was four years old, his mother, Lorraine married Barry Belak and they both took his surname.
August 31st 2011 at approximately 1.33pm, Wade was found dead in a condo at the One King Street West hotel in Toronto. Suicide by strangulation suspect the Toronto Police although this had been debated by family and friends in a number of published articles since.
Husband to Jennifer, Belak left behind two daughters, Andie and Alex born in 2004 and 2006.
This past Sunday, Wade would have been 40-years-old.
Therefore, it only seems appropriate then that this week's Throw back Thursday (#TBT) is dedicated to the big number 3 who was pivotal in Coventry Blaze winning the Grand Slam of 2004/05.
A junior with the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, the 6'5" defenceman, then of the famous Maple Leafs, moved to Coventry during the NHL lock-out, helping to turn a somewhat inconsistent team to start the season into an unstoppable force who went on to win all three major trophies available.
“We had tremendous team spirit, however at the beginning it did not look like we could win all of the trophies, reflected one of Belak's defence partners in the Grand Slam season, Pavol Mihalik in a recent 'Catching up with' interview. "His arrival helped the team a lot."
Tomorrow's guest, another member of that famous side, Canadian forward Graham Schlender is equal in his praise for the NHL heavyweight.
"He made such a big impact on our team with the way he encouraged players and certainly lead our team on the ice in a big way."
Belak iced 45 times in total for the Blaze, posting seven goals and eleven assists and a near 200 penalty minutes, mostly in protection of his teammates as he lifted the Playoff trophy to end the season.
"Wade became one of us. He became a Blaze player and he was very proud of that," commented Blaze Chairman Andy Buxton. "Even though he was a superstar who was playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world when he came over, you’d never have known. He was a larger than life character, but he fitted right in straight away, he mucked in with everyone else, he cared and he played his heart out. Even though he went back to Canada after the season when the NHL started playing again, his time in Coventry was always something that he spoke highly of. We all kept in touch with him and we’re all so sad that he’s gone."
Blaze's current Director of Hockey and another former colleague of Wade's, James Pease said, "He was a great player, teammate and friend and I was deeply saddened by his death. I was lucky enough to play alongside him during our memorable 2004/05 Grand Slam year. He was a huge presence in the dressing room and on the ice and played a no nonsense style of hockey. Wade really enjoyed his time in Coventry and I know he felt like he was part of something very special."
Current Sheffield Steelers' Head Coach and former Blaze boss who brought Belak to the club concluded this round of tributes saying, "It was a privilege to have known and coached him. He was only with us a year but he left a huge impact on this club. It was a magical year with a magical player and he was adored by everyone. He didn’t come in thinking that we were beneath him or trying to change what we did. He bought into us and he was a big playing part of our success. He wasn’t there just to fight, he was an important member of our team and he liked being leant on. He followed our progress after he left and kept in touch occasionally, and when we went over to a coaching conference in Canada he met us at the airport, looked after us and was proud to show us around this town. He was a good man."