Nashville Predators honor former teammate Wade Belak - WSMV News 4

Nashville Predators honor former teammate Wade Belak

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Wade Belak's family members, friends and former teammates gathered for a private ceremony at Woodmont Christian Church on a rainy Sunday to remember the former NHL player.

The 35-year-old Belak was found dead Wednesday at a luxury condo and hotel building in Toronto.

A person familiar with Belak's death told The Associated Press on Thursday that he hanged himself. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details of the investigation were confidential.

Tie Domi, who played with Belak for five seasons with Toronto, remembered the friend who sat next to him in the Maple Leafs' locker room.

"He was a very special guy and was loved by everyone," Domi said. "He was a teammate, a great, great teammate. He was a special kid."

A veteran of 14 NHL seasons, Belak played in 549 games with five teams, most recently the Nashville Predators.

He retired late last season and stayed with the organization as a member of its radio broadcast team. For the upcoming season, Belak was slated to serve as the team's sideline television reporter.

Away from the rink, Belak was active in the Nashville community.

He routinely visited schools and hospitals and also was a volunteer firefighter in nearby Williamson County.

The Predators players placed a full-page tribute to Belak in Saturday's edition of the Tennessean newspaper. One of the photos featured the 6-fooot-5 Belak reading a book to elementary school kids with a children's sized plastic firefighter hat on his head.

Several Predators players who had planned to come back to Nashville later in the month in advance of the opening of the team's training camp rearranged their travel plans to attend the funeral.

"It's so sad," Nashville defenseman Ryan Suter said. "He always saw the bigger picture.

"He was so happy to be retired. He was happy to be moving on because he had played for so long and now he was going to be able to relax and enjoy it."

Belak is survived by wife Jennifer and daughters Andie and Alex.

Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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