As teammates and friends remembered Wade Belak as a dressing room joker who never seemed to have a bad day, two sources who knew Belak, the former Leafs enforcer who committed suicide Wednesday at age 35, said the retired tough guy had suffered from depression.
The sources, who asked not to be identified, said Thursday that Belak took medication to treat his mental illness but had been loath to speak about it.
Brent Sopel, the ex-NHL defenceman who now plays in Russia, posted a dim view of post-NHL existence on Twitter: "It’s true when you’re gone from the NHL it’s like you never played. We’re all just pieces of meat."
Jarkko Ruutu, an NHL free agent, wrote on Twitter: "I feel that teams as employers should act instead of just releasing statements. Real action is required. (The) drop from playing in the NHL to retiring is HUGE. Most of the players have trouble dealing with it. This needs to be taken seriously."