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Former NHL enforcer Belak hanged himself

TORONTO – Former NHL player Wade Belak hanged himself, according to a person familiar with the case.

The 35-year-old Belak, an enforcer who had played with five NHL teams before retiring in March, was found dead Wednesday in Toronto.

The person familiar with Belak’s death said he hanged himself at a downtown luxury hotel and condo building. The person spoke on condition of anonymity Thursday because details of the investigation were confidential.

Belak is the third NHL enforcer found dead since May.

The body of 27-year-old Rick Rypien of the Winnipeg Jets was discovered earlier this month at his home in Alberta after a police official said a call was answered for a “sudden and non-suspicious” death. Former New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May at 28 from an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Don Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players Association, issued a joint statement saying that while each case is unique the “tragic events cannot be ignored.” They pledged to review the league’s substance abuse and behavioral health programs.


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