While many might remember Wade Belak the most for being a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he finished his lengthy career as an NHL enforcer with the Nashville Predators.
Belak spent parts of three seasons with the organization. He was traded from the Florida Panthers to Nashville on November 27, 2008 and played 38 games for the Predators in the 2008-09 season. He then played 39 games with Nashville in 09-10 and 15 in 2010-11.
Nashville made enough of an impression on Belak that his funeral service will take place there on Sunday, but it turns out that the well-liked pugilist made an impression on the city and his final hockey team as well.
Predators center David Legwand decided to take out a full-page advertisement in The Tennessean to pay tribute to his former teammate on Saturday. Josh Cooper shared that heartfelt message with readers here.
“In Loving memory of Wade Belak”
“A Son, Brother, Husband, Father, Friend and Teammate!”
“One of the greatest, funniest, toughest guys to play the game of hockey, you warmed all of our hearts, brought life to the locker room and ice, and made us all laugh, whether it was with you or at you. More than you’ll ever know, you were loved by the guys you played with and those you stood up for. The hockey world has lost a great man on the ice and in the community and no team or sport had a better ambassador. You represented everything good about the game and its players.
You will forever have a place in the Predator family, community, and with your fans. You will always be in our hearts.
To Jen, Andie and Alex, Wade loved you each more than anything in the world and always had a smile on his face when he talked about his family. Wade, you went way before your time. So to our friend, with all the hugs, thoughts and prayers, we let you rest in peace.”
Legwand finished out the message by saying that it was written by him on behalf of the Predators’ players, coaches, trainers and organization as a whole.
Obviously it’s easy to be grim in tough times like these – and there’s certainly some very serious lessons to learn. But it’s important to remember that a person’s life shouldn’t be solely defined by the way it ends. Belak obviously touched a lot of lives when he wasn’t getting into on-ice skirmishes, something that will surely be mentioned during his funeral service tomorrow.