Canadian Reality TV Contestant Dies From Suspected Suicide

Brian Babineau/NHL via Getty Images

Former NHL enforcer Wade Belak was found dead Wednesday in a Toronto condo, where he stayed while rehearsing for CBC's "Battle of the Blades" ice skating competition series.

TORONTO -- The surprise death of former National Hockey League enforcer Wade Belak has left the CBC reality show Battle of the Blades reeling, and without a cast member ahead of a September 18 season premiere.

"We are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Wade Belak. We send our thoughts and condolences to his family and friends. He will be greatly missed,” Kirstine Stewart, executive vp of English services for the CBC, said on the Battle of the Blades website.

Belak, 35, was found dead in a Toronto condo on Wednesday, where he was staying while rehearsing for the Battle of the Blades series.

Toronto police do not suspect foul play and are treating the case as a suicide.

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His death is the third among former NHL tough guys in the last four months, after New York Ranger Derek Boogaard died in May and ex -Vancouver Canuck enforcer Rick Rypien died in August.

Belak’s death is a blow to the NHL, which like other pro leagues is investigating the link between physical injuries sustained during an athlete’s career and mental health issues.

But it is also a blow to the Canadian ice skating competition series from indie Insight Productions, which features former NHL tough guys mastering graceful ice dance routines with Olympic figure skating stars.

“What? ... What’s with all the tough guys dying or having problems? Am I next on the list?” a shocked retired NHL enforcer and Battle of the Blades contestant Georges Laraque told the Toronto Star.