Former NHLer Wade Belak was found dead in his Toronto condo on Wednesday.
The cause of his death is as of yet undetermined, but police said foul play is not suspected.
The Nashville Predators, his last NHL team, released the following statement:
“The entire Nashville Predators organization and family is shocked and saddened by the sudden and untimely passing of Wade Belak. Wade was a beloved member of the organization, a terrific teammate and wonderful father and husband who will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex. We offer our full support to them at this very difficult time.”
Belak played 15 games last season for the Predators, finishing with 18 penalty minutes and a minus-1 rating. He was placed on waivers by the club in February of this year. He retired shortly after clearing waivers unclaimed.
Former NHL tough guy Georges Laraque joined TSN Radio's Cybulski & Company shortly after the news of Belak's death broke and spoke about the pressures of being an enforcer on the ice.
"Now I think people will realize the tough job of playing in the NHL and the tough job of being a heavyweight," he said. "It takes a lot mentally. It's really hard."
He went on about the realities that come with punching your weight for a living in the NHL.
"When you retire after being a heavyweight for as many years as you played, most of those guys didn't make [much] money, so there's no options for them after," Laraque said. "So, after you have all this pressure of playing and fighting for a living, now you have to fight to live when life after hockey is over."
Many of Belak's former teammates took to Twitter to express their disbelief.
"Wade Belak was one of funniest dudes I had ever met. Just was with him earlier this summer. Can't believe it Thoughts and prayers to his fam," tweeted recent Preds teammate Blake Geoffrion.
Former Maple Leafs teammate Owen Nolan also expressed his shock via Twitter.
"I'm lost for words. Wade Belak RIP my friend," his tweet read.
The 35-year-old Belak spent parts of 14 seasons in the NHL with Nashville, Toronto, Florida, Calgary and Colorado. In 549 career games he scored eight goals and added 25 assists, while racking up 1263 penalty minutes.
He was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques in the first round, 12th overall, at the 1994 NHL Entry Draft.