It seems that everyone has something nice to say about Wade Belak, and I'm sure it's no coincidence. Everyone from mainstream media members, to bloggers, to casual fans who met Belak tell similar stories. From Jon S., over at Puckin' Eh:
It was these circumstances that led to me meeting Wade Belak. Our first night in California my friend Ray and I found ourselves drinking at the Saddle Ranch under the allure of a mechanic bull. Early in the evening the DJ played New Orleans Is Sinking by the Tragically Hip and it immediately outted the other Canadian in the bar, Wade Belak.
My friend felt compelled to by the other Canadian a shot of Tequila, it was then that we learned who Wade was, at that time a defenseman for the Calgary Flames. Wade invited us to join his table and we spent the evening downing tequila, riding the mechanical bull, and listening to his stories about life in the NHL.
While the night was hazy for all of us, and when we left Wade was close to passing out at the table, I learned that night what an incredibly friendly, open, down to earth guy that Wade Belak was. I would never meet Wade Belak again, but would be left with one of my better drinking stories. It is because of knowing what a great person he was that todays news hits me even harder.
I've grouped the links for today into Belak, Leafs, and Other Hockey Links. Read on for more.
Wade Belak Tributes/Related Articles:
Ex-NHL enforcer Wade Belak remembered as upbeat, loud and fun
Adrian Morrow and James Mirtle combine forces to bring us the story. There are also some good links in here to Pat Quinn's memories of Belak, as well as some more photos.
Walking in the Shadow of the Funny Man Wade Belak
Jay Faulkner at the Hockey Writers thinks that Belak should be remembered more for his life than the circumstances of his passing. A good read.
Vintage Leafs: RIP
Vintage Leafs have some new photos up, and it's not tough to guess who the subject is.
RIP Wade Belak
Over at LeafsHQ, Jeff Veillette shares a few fond memories of the former Leafs enforcer.
Wade Belak won’t be the last – time to outlaw fighting in the NHL
Well, not everyone was going to set aside the fighting-brain injury-depression links. Terrance Gavan at the Hockey Writers weighs in.
Matt Wagner has some strong words for Gary Bettman over at the Cannon.
The Active Stick doesn't know why we're yelling, but it might have something to do with loud noises.
Remembering Wade Belak, a true NHL fan favorite
Wyhshynski has his say over at PD.
Leafs' Goalies vs. Scoring Chances, 2010-11
Reallly great stuff from Slava Duris over at The Leafs Nation. Definitely a recommended read.
Looking for reader views: what could derail the Leafs’ fans optimism?
Michael Langlois at VLM decides to leave Wade Belak posts for others, and instead focuses on something a little more upbeat.
Cautious Optimism For Matt
Lombardi, that is. Once again at LeafsHQ, Jeff cautions Leafs fans that concussion symptoms can return after a while.
Other Hockey Links:
Toskala looks to bounce back with hometown club
A bit of levity on a sad day: "If Ilves is to improve its place in the standings in 2011-12, there is considerable room for improvement in cutting down the number of goals the team gives up. Last season, the team ranked dead last in the league with 192 goals allowed but partially made up for it with its sixth-ranked offense (161 goals scored). Toskala will need to be part of the solution, and he will have to shake off the rust of last season's inactivity in addition to putting two-plus seasons of struggle in the NHL behind him. "
No $50K prize for 11-year-old who made 89-foot hockey shot
Dick move, Odds on Promotions. From Sean Leahy at PD.
How Gary Bettman is hockey's Vince McMahon, and why that's great for the NHL
I'm not crazy about several of these arguments, but those of you that know wrestling better than I do may see enough similarities to make this a worthwhile comparison, anyway. By Matt Horner at The Good Point.
Savard's career likely over
James Mirtle explains that Savard is going to be out for the season, but may never return to the game at all.
OHL institutes soft-cap pads for upcoming season
The OHL is trying to reduce head injuries, and I think that this is a great way to go about it. From the CP at the Globe.
Jets land 10-year broadcast deal with Bell Media
From Susan Krashinsky at the Globe.
Paying for potential
Travis Hughes at BSH looks at James van Riemsdyk's contract extension. This is the kind of thing Leafs fans have to think about with regards to Schenn's contract... not that they're not doing that already.