The Nashville Predators placed the long-time enforcer on waivers in February, and when he cleared, they gave him a choice. Belak had the option of reporting to the team’s minor-league affiliate in Milwaukee, or he could remain with the team and collect his salary as a radio and television personality.
He also discussed his upcoming stint on Battle of the Blades.
"The first time I went out there, I fell right on my face," he said. "It is a big difference from hockey skates. You’re pretty much in a high-heel boot, leaning forward. And if you lean too far forward and push off with your toes, you’re going to toe-pick."
It seems as though, like many fighters, he didn't enjoy the actual fights, just did it to be part of the League.
The 35-year-old from Saskatoon knew he was in the league because of his muscle, but it didn't mean he enjoyed the work.
"On nights you knew you had to fight, there were nerves, you never slept the night before," Belak told Mark Zwolinski in an interview in March. "But you dealt with it or you didn't. You don't really get over it, you just go out and do your job."
A nice article about one journalists memories of him.
One of the top fighters in the NHL – his vicious punch once cracked an opponent's helmet – Belak always had a smile on his face, the first to scoop up a teammate's child when they visited the locker room. Everyone, it seemed, loved the big redhead from Saskatoon.
We just know that there aren’t an awful lot of 40-goal scorers or puck-moving defencemen dying young, and that the men whose role it is to fight in the NHL are starting to vanish like professional wrestlers. This shouldn’t be a political issue in the sport; it should be a human one. And at some point, some deadly serious questions have to be asked about the role of enforcers in hockey, if only to understand why these men are gone too soon. This has been an unspeakable summer, which is exactly why it needs to be talked about.
But all that is for later. Wade Belak is for now. In 2007, when Belak scored his first NHL goal in four years, he called his parents and woke them up, and joked he’d ask his mom for five bucks, just like when he was a kid. At that rate she would have paid out just $40 in his 15-year-career; it would have been a bargain.
The Montreal Gazette also talks about Wade.
The news of Belak’s death was shocking because whenever people in my business described the former Leafs’ enforcer, they inevitably commented on how he was “full of life.” He was paid to beat up opponents, but he lit up dressing rooms with his grin and he could joke about going four years without scoring a goal. He was considered one of the good interviews in the game and dabbled in television. It was no surprise he was tabbed as one of this year’s contestants in the CBC’s popular Battle of the Blades, which is as much about show business as it is about hockey or figure skating.
Belak was asked by the Star about the best thing that happened to him as a player and he answered by saying the first goal he scored in the NHL with Colorado in 1997-98 and his last, with Toronto, in 2007-08.
"Fans were chanting my name in the streets," he said, "it felt like I was mayor for a week."