While it was clear that ex-enforcer Wade Belak’s NHL career was over, it seemed like he had a lot to look forward to heading into the 2011-12 season. Belak was set to become a sideline reporter during Nashville Predators games and made CBC’s list of participants for its popular reality show Battle of the Blades. Sadly, the hockey world won’t see the well-liked former fighter in either role after his sad death in late August.
The third season of that show began Sunday with a tribute to the fallen fighter, whose spot was eventually filled by Russ Courtnall. The tribute included commentary from his former teammates and opponents along with footage from some early prep work in which Belak prepared for the competition, which pairs former hockey players with figure skaters with the winning duo earning $100K for a charity of their choice. Courtnall will represent Belak’s chosen charity: the Tourette’s Syndrome Neurodevelopmental Clinic at the Toronto Western Hospital.
The Canadian Press describes some of the footage that provided an ode to Belak.
The show began with a message dedicating the show to the memory of Belak, as well as to his wife Jennifer and daughters Alex and Andie.
“This one’s for you Wade,” said host Ron MacLean as the camera moved out to show his No. 3 painted on the ice.
The episode, called ‘Game On,’ documents some of Belak’s last moments as he and the other contestants prepare for the show. His sense of humour is on display as he tries to adjust to figure skates, laughs at May’s frequent tumbles and jokes about competitor Cale Hulse’s hairstyle.
“Every time I fell I’d hear Wade’s little yell, and somewhat of a chuckle at me,” May said. “It was a lot easier having a guy like Wade Belak with you, laughing at yourself.”