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Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Thursday, 1 September 2011 13:57 UK

Former Coventry Blaze defenceman Wade Belak dies

Wade Belak (Mark Tredgold)
Belak celebrates a goal that helped Blaze win the Challenge Cup in 2005

Former Coventry Blaze defenceman Wade Belak has died at the age of 35.

According to news agency Reuters, the retired ice hockey player was found dead in a Toronto hotel on Wednesday.

Belak helped Coventry win the grand slam in the 2004-05 season, joining from the Leafs because the NHL was on a temporary lockout.

Blaze chairman Andy Buxton told their club website: "We're all in shock. Wade became one of us. He became a Blaze player and he was very proud of that."

Buxton continued: "Even though he was a superstar who was playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world when he came over, you'd never have known.

"He was a larger than life character, but he fitted right in straight away. He mucked in with everyone else, he cared and he played his heart out.

We all kept in touch with him and we're all so sad that he's gone
Andy Buxton, Coventry Blaze

"Even though he went back to Canada after the season when the NHL started playing again, his time in Coventry was always something that he spoke highly of.

"We all kept in touch with him and we're all so sad that he's gone. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, wife Jennifer and children Andie and Alex at this terrible time."

Belak scored seven goals and made 11 assists in his 45 games for Coventry. He also amassed 178 penalty minutes.

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