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Posts Tagged ‘Nashville’

 

Today is a very sad day.

You see yesterday I learned that my friend Wade Belak passed away.

And while many may know Wade from his many fights on the ice there was another side to him that was really special. Here’s how we met.

It was the spring of 2006 and I had the opportunity to get in for knee surgery. Sounds kind of weird to describe it as an ‘opportunity’ but that’s what it was.

You see the wait list to have my ACL reconstructed would be 12-18 months. But I had a chance to get in right away and fix my knee.

So I went for it.

And I knew ahead of time I would be off-work for some time. And I was frustrated that I couldn’t be helping others so I turned off my phone and focussed on my rehab.

After 9 weeks I was ready to step back in the gym and back to work. And so I turned my phone on. And listened to a message from a guy who’s name I couldn’t quite make out.

So I passed the phone to my sister and asked her who she thought it was. She passed me the phone back and said ‘Wade Belak’.

Now I really felt like crap for being off so long and then for ignoring calls from NHL players for 9 weeks.

Great customer service, eh?

Well I called Wade back, we met for lunch and at the end of lunch he asked if I would work with him.

He didn’t know it but at the that time he was the first NHL player I would work with. And to this day probably the best.

The best because he was just an awesome guy.

Being similar in age we shared a similar sense of humour, music and entertainment.

But he wasn’t just this way with me.

When we would have other clients training at the same time Wade was really good with all of them. From the young hockey players whose jaws dropped when he’d come over to them to say hello, to the soccer moms he’d tell how impressed he was with their efforts or the rehab client he would empathize with Wade had a way of connecting with everyone.

In fact it was this personality and character that made him a natural in front of the camera. Take for example the series ‘Wade a Minute’ he did with TSN. Classic Beaks!

But probably my favourite memory of the big fella was a trip down to Nashville in January of 2009.

I brought my dad along as part of Christmas present. We caught a couple of Pred games. One against the Penguins and another against the ‘Hawks. Not a bad pairing, eh?

And in between the games we caught Titans-Ravens NFL playoff game.

Anyways, after the the first game against the Penguins we were waiting in the arena to meet up with Wade.

Crosby walked past to go do an interview and then Wade showed up. He couldn’t join us that night as there was a team party for Jason Arnott, the captain of the Predators.

So we made plans to head out the following evening to a steak restaurant across the street from the arena.

Wade asks us if 7 pm works.

I say sure but my dad, who was retired at this time, doesn’t say anything.

So Wade turns to him and in perfect deadpan says ‘or we could find a nice buffet somewhere at 430 pm if you’d prefer?’

That’s just how I’ll remember him.

Joking around. Making people feel comfortable. And being the great guy he is.

I hope they great golf and lots of Coronas for you in heaven.

We’ll miss you Wade.

Chris                                                                                                                                                       onsidehockeytraining.com