CBC’s Battle of the Blades will include a memorial to former NHLer Wade Belak in a special show to kick off the third season of the reality TV series.
Blades host Ron MacLean will pay tribute to Belak, the former NHL tough guy and Blades competitor who was found dead in his Toronto hotel room Aug. 31. He was reported to have committed suicide.
A one-hour Blades show titled "Game On" will portray him in training sessions for the reality competition, which asks hockey players to don figure skates and try to master pairs skating.
CBC announced Monday that the third season of the series will go ahead as planned.
"Our hearts go out to Wade's family and friends and he is greatly missed by our cast and crew," John Brunton, executive producer and CEO of Insight Productions, co-creator of the show, said in a press statement.
"Our cast came together and told us that they felt strongly about doing the show as a tribute to Wade."
The first episode of season three's Battle of the Blades, airing Sept. 18, will show all the hockey players preparing for the competition with their figure skating partners. Footage displaying Belak’s "enthusiasm and humour" will be included in the show, the CBC statement said. The first live competition will be aired Sept. 25.
Todd Simpson, a former NHL defenceman from North Vancouver, and then Edmonton and Lethbridge, Alta., will join the lineup.
Simpson played junior hockey for the Saskatoon Blades alongside Belak. He began his pro career with the Calgary Flames in 1994 and was named team captain in 1997. He went on to play for eight other NHL teams.
Battle of the Blades hopes to cast an eighth player in the reality TV series this week to partner with Kim Navarro, the U.S. World Team skater who was paired with Belak.
The stars of hockey and figure skating compete for a $100,000 donation to their favourite charity.