When former Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Wade Belak was found dead of an apparent suicide, there was speculation whether CBC would move forward with this season of Battle of the Blades. Belak was scheduled to take part in the CBC reality show that pairs former NHL stars with figure skaters. In its two previous seasons, the show has become quite popular in Canada and has been licensed to air worldwide including the United States.
A week before the third season of Battle of the Blades premieres on CBC on September 25, the network will air a special tribute to Belak during a one hour preview of the show. We have this announcement from CBC.
Season Premiere Special “GAME ON” on September 18 will feature special tribute to Wade Belak
CBC’s BATTLE OF THE BLADES will go forward with its third season, premiering on Sunday, September 18 at 8 p.m. as planned. BATTLE OF THE BLADES: GAME ON is a one-hour special featuring footage of the cast members when they first met in July and began to train for the show. The Blades cast and crew are deeply saddened by the death of former NHLer Wade Belak, however, they believe that he would want the show to go on.
“GAME ON,” the series opener, documents the cast’s career accomplishments, personal stories and how far they must come to prepare for their first live performance. This show reveals why these great athletes are taking on this challenge for their chosen charities. The show will also include a heartfelt memorial tribute to Belak by Ron MacLean, incorporating footage showing the infectious enthusiasm and humour he brought to the training sessions.
“Wade’s death has been devastating for our entire BATTLE OF THE BLADES family, and our thoughts are with all members of his own family at this time. But we believe he would want us to move ahead, and we are looking forward to season three of BATTLE OF THE BLADES,” said Kirstine Stewart, executive vice president of CBC English Services.
“Our hearts go out to Wade’s family and friends and he is greatly missed by our cast and crew,” says John Brunton, Executive Producer and CEO of Insight Productions. “Our cast came together and told us that they felt strongly about doing the show as a tribute to Wade. BATTLE OF THE BLADES Season 3 has taken on a whole new meaning for them.”
New to the BATTLE OF THE BLADES cast competitor lineup is former NHL defenseman Todd Simpson. Hailing from North Vancouver, British Columbia and then Edmonton and Lethbridge, Alberta, Todd has a special connection with Wade Belak as he played his junior hockey for the Saskatoon Blades where Wade was his defensive partner. He began his NHL career with the Calgary Flames in 1994. He played with the Flames for four years and was named team captain in 1997. Todd went on to play for six other NHL team throughout the course of his 10 year career. An eighth NHL player is hoped to be cast this week who will partner with US World Team Member, Kim Navarro, who was paired with Wade Belak.
BATTLE OF THE BLADES partners stars of hockey and figure skating to battle it out in a weekly live skating competition for a $100,000 first prize donation to the charity of their choice. Broadcast from the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, the live elimination competition series. A total of $290,000 will be donated to charities throughout the 8-week series.
The first BATTLE OF THE BLADES live performance will be comprised of one-hour competitions on Sunday, September 25 and on Monday, September 26 at 8 p.m. (8:30 p.m. NT). Fans have asked for no elimination in the first week, but these performances will still count towards the first elimination held in week two. Subsequent weeks will feature performance shows on Sunday evenings followed by the dramatic, live “skate-off” results shows on Monday nights.
That is it.