Wade Belak. Rick Rypien. Derek Boogaard. Three lives unexpectedly cut short, their names now represent a tragic year. And while each individual's life, and death, were unique, all three men shared a love of hockey, and earned their living, and a certain fame and fortune, as an "enforcer" in the NHL.
With three of them now dead, Canadians are beginning to ask whether the life of a professional hockey player, or more specifically, the role of the enforcer, carries with it a propensity for trouble, for emotional difficulty, even mental illness.
The NHL and the NHLPA have announced that they are investigating the three deaths, and also the question on everyone's mind: Should more be done to support the players of what looks to some like an increasingly dangerous game?
CBC News The National will have more coverage of this story in the coming weeks.