A Toronto police officer walks outside an apartment building in Toronto where former NHL player Wade Belak was found dead on Wednesday Aug. 31, 2011. (AP Photo)
TORONTO (AP) - A person familiar with the death of Wade Belak says the former NHL player hanged himself.
Belak, an enforcer who had played with five NHL teams before retiring in March, was found dead Wednesday in Toronto. He was 35.
The person familiar with Belak's death says he hanged himself at a downtown luxury hotel and condo building. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because details of the investigation are confidential.
Belak's wife, Jennifer Belak, released the following statement through the Nashville Predators:
"We are overwhelmed and deeply touched by the outpouring of compassion and support since Wade's passing. Wade was a big man with an even bigger heart. He was a deeply devoted father and husband, a loyal friend and a well respected athlete. This loss leaves a huge hole in our lives and, as we move forward, we ask that everyone remember Wade's infectious sense of humor, his caring spirit and the joy he brought to his friends, family and fans. The coming days will be very difficult for our family and we respectfully ask that we be allowed to grieve privately."
A private funeral service has been scheduled in Nashville for Sunday, September 4 at 2 p.m. at Woodmont Christian Church on 3601 Hillsboro Pike.
Belak is the third NHL enforcer found dead since May.
The body of 27-year-old Rick Rypien of Winnipeg was discovered earlier this month at his home in Alberta after a police official said a call was answered for a "sudden and non-suspicious" death. Former Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died in May at 28 due to an accidental mix of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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