Wade Belak, 6-5… He knew his role. He’s like, I can’t
stay here unless I fight. Were you aware that he
was suffering concussions? None, no. I feel like it’s the NHL’s
responsibility to stand up and take care of these players. The truth. Tell the [no audio] truth. Mr. Bettman, I’m Bob
McKeown from the CBC. -We’re doing a piece–
-Nice to see you. [Bettman] I gotta go. ♪ [theme] ♪ ♪ Lana wants to be
a soccer player. Look at her, look at her. I scored a goal. My man. My man. Good, good, good. You got denied? I’ll give you a hug. This wasn’t always the case that
Daniel would come out and enjoy these games. It was always usually me taking
the kids and going and he was always at home. [Bob] At home,
living with the seven concussions Daniel
Carcillo is sure he suffered in his pro-hockey
career and the yet unknown brain trauma
they may have caused. He just didn’t want to
connect with anyone. And sometimes that
was with me too. It was a very scary time. I had to help him at his
lowest point in his life. [Bob] Through it
all, Ela Carcillo is fighting for her
husband and family. For all of them. It’s only sometimes that the
good days outweigh the bad. I don’t think I’ve realized
until just recently how hard it could be on somebody to
watch somebody they love go through this stuff. You know, she’s burdened. She’s carried a
lot of the weight, with the kids and also with me. To look out here
and actually like, for the first time, enjoy
these kids while they’re running around. It’s just, it’s life-changing. [Announcer] It’s
the early one in. Carcillo throwing hard right… [Bob] On the ice, they called Dan Carcillo “Car
Bomb” for a reason. [Announcer] Now
Rypien hammers him with a left! Then here’s
Carcillo picking it up, cutting in front. Carcillo dekes.
He can’t get a shot away. Now he does.
He scores! Daniel Carcillo… [Ela] One of the first games
that I went to the crowd started to go crazy and
I’m like, “What is going on here?” [Announcer] Here’s McNabb.
McNabb and Carcillo… Carcillo… [Ela] I look on the huge
monitor and I’m like… that’s Daniel and he’s fighting. [Announcer] They
grab a bigger guy, Carcillo,
probably used to the situation more so… And the crowd was
screaming, you know, like obviously, they love it. And I’m like, “No!” I was like freaking out. My girlfriend is
like, “Holy shit!” Like, this is crazy. [Announcer] Carcillo
was throwing the short punches and
McNabb, was trying the clean uppercut… [Bob] And for all
the punishment he gave in nine NHL
seasons with five teams, there’s plenty more he got. In the NHL concussions can often
lead to a cycle of substance abuse, depression,
memory loss, even suicide. I’m fighting people and I’m
fighting her and I’m fighting my kids. I don’t want to hear
anybody yelling and I’m fighting everything. To the point where I’ve
had all those thoughts. Three months ago,
even last week. You know, I had to go back in,
inside and I’ve had suicidal ideation. I’ve had anxiety. I’ve had depression
and, like, you know, um, I’ve made plans to do that. [Announcer] Carcillo,
Carcillo, getting driven to the glass… What’s gotten me out
of it is you know, hopefully, I will get
better at some point. [Bob] It’s a hockey
club with too many members. Their names now a
litany of tragic endings. Boogaard, Belak,
Rypien, Montador, Ewen and other NHL enforcers who
one way or another took their own lives. [Announcer] He hit
the side of the net… Now a penalty is coming. Belak, I think. [Bob] And now, it’s those left behind who are fighting. Their husbands may
have made millions, but hockey wives know
the true cost of the game. [Announcer] ..back
of his head…. Ouch… Yes. [Bob] And they are
demanding to be heard by the men
who run the National Hockey League. [Announcer] Belak’s
lost his– Trying to work with
the left hand… I want to start with
that episode of “Wade a Minute.” Oh gosh. Yes. Where Jody Vance and Wade
descend on you at home. Do you remember that? I do remember that. Yeah. I’ve been begging for
him to take salsa lessons! This is Wade when he dances. He hunches. Hey, I’ve got rhythm. [Bob] What do you
remember of that morning? I was in my pyjamas
with like, no make-up on, not knowing that
they were coming, and they came. He called me like,
five minutes out. I was like, what? We’re coming to
film this show there, and, you know, it
was, it was fun. How would you
describe your life then? I mean it was great, right? I have these two little
kids, I had a great husband, who was happy, and,
had an amazing career, you know, as an
NHL hockey player. He was, he was living his dream
that he trained so hard for. We’re making a chocolate cake! [Bob] This is the
first time that Jenn Belak is sharing her story, and Wade’s, in
such a public way. And, he knew his role. He didn’t love
it, but he knew it, and, he was fine with it ’cause
he wanted to stay up in the NHL and, and have this career. [Announcer] Belak
and Purinton, right in front of the Leaf bench… He’s like, I can’t
stay here unless I fight. [Announcer] Wade
Belak, 6’5, 221, going at it with Dale Purinton. Were you aware that he
was suffering concussions? None, no. Not once. We were never told. No documented concussions. And did you draw the correlation
between what he was doing on the ice? The fights, the punishment and
what you were seeing happen at home? No, not at first. Wade couldn’t figure it out. He had no idea what
was wrong with him. Like he’s like,
maybe it’s the kids, maybe it’s our
marriage, maybe it’s this, maybe it’s that. I’m like, maybe
there’s depression. Like maybe something’s wrong. Daddy is right there. Hi Daddy! [Bob] Indeed something
was very wrong. His last few seasons with the
Nashville Predators like an emotional roller coaster. He was either happy Wade,
when on anti-depressants… There’s Daddy! [Bob] ..or Wade,
spiralling downwards when he wasn’t. What was the first point at
which you realized there may be suicidal
thoughts involved? There was a trip
that he took as a team. They were on top of a building
in New York looking at like the World Trade
Centre, where it was. And he was like, I
had this thought, like, what would it feel
like to just jump off and just, that’s it. And he told me
that and I was like, “Whoa, that’s kinda scary.” [Announcer] ..that
time, Todd Ewen got the job done with
a right hand… How did you and Todd first meet? We met here in St Louis. I was actually a hairdresser. And he just so happened
to end up in my chair. We just really hit
it off and I thought, this guy’s a little different,
but I really like him. And, so, then it’s
just history from there. We’d only dated a month and
he asked me to marry him. -And…
-And what did you say? Absolutely.
[Giggles] He was just a joy. Well, first of all, my
eye’s drawn to that… Right. ..which is almost as big
as the real Stanley Cup. Yes. Though this is in
1993, in Montreal, Quebec, uh, we won
the Stanley Cup… You don’t have to rub it in. It’s the last time–
[Laughter] –a Canadian team
won the Stanley Cup. …the 24th time, and
the last time since then. This is Todd’s original photo of
when he got traded to Montreal. This is the guy. This is the little baby. The young little baby Canadian. And, of course, a
picture of Todd and the boys. His greatest
achievements in life, he’ll tell you that. [Announcer] ..Ewan
really giving it to him now,
Probert trying to get– Ewan trying to get
that right hand in… One of the things that’s said
about Todd Ewen is that perhaps the worst thing that
could have happened in his career happened in his second
fight in his rookie year when he fought and beat Bob Probert, the
heavy weight champion of the National Hockey League. [Announcer] ..and
now he’s got Ewen back-pedalling,
he connected, now he switches to the left hand. That was his in. That’s when he
made it to the show, as they call it. He didn’t really even
know what he’d done. Then there was this
big hoopla over this, like he was the heavy
weight champion now. You know. If he were here, he
would still tell you he, he hated it, he hated
every minute of it. [Announcer] That’s Todd Ewan! This is ugly, Ewan’s already put
in a couple of good little love taps. When you look at
the guy you met, and then you look at what
he was doing for a living, for 11 years in the
NHL, how did the two mesh? You know, I was shocked. [Announcer] And
Ewen gets that right hand free… Robertson falls down… Did that give you second
thoughts about who he really was? No, because I kind of felt like
I really knew who he was off the ice. On the ice, it
doesn’t necessarily mean, you know, they’re
a violent person. [Announcer] Todd Ewen… Todd never was that. In the beginning. [Announcer] Todd Ewen
and Brent Severyn with the gloves off! Severyn’s no
stranger to the penalty… [Bob] In 11 seasons
in the NHL, Todd Ewen had at least 145 fights. It was an era when even
after getting rocked on the ice, players were sent
right back out again. Did it become clear to
you that he was sustaining, effectively, traumatic brain
injury, as they call it now? Concussions. We knew that he was sustaining
concussions and head trauma, you know, based on blurry vision
and headaches and sleeplessness. [Announcer] Now
Bester you see, he takes Ewan off Daoust. You know, he came to
me one day and he said, “I feel like I’m going crazy. There is something
wrong with my brain.” And I didn’t understand. But he knew more than I
think he was even telling me. [Bob] After retiring
from hockey, Todd Ewen was still a
man of many talents. Successful real
estate agent, musician, author and, of
course, husband and father. But like all the others he had
an invisible injury and inside his brain Todd
was slipping away. We didn’t know who we had. One day, we had the
sad Todd, the mad Todd, the angry Todd. We had no idea
what was going on. This man suffered
for years like this. Our family suffered
for years like this. When you see the man that
you love go through this, year after year after year, is
there a protective instinct that comes to play? That’s why I’m
sitting here today. Todd was only 49-years-old. I had him for 28 years. I would have liked to have had
him for another twenty years. You don’t have to have
any symptoms from it. You can feel fine. And it generally catches up
several years to even a decade later. [Bob] The “it”
she’s talking about is chronic traumatic
encephalopathy, or CTE, and it can only
be diagnosed in an autopsy. Dr Ann Mckee is a leading
neuropathologist who’s seen the toll CTE takes in the brains
of more than 400 pro-athletes. There’s no
question that fighting, head impacts, boxing, football,
all of these sports and where there’s neuro-trauma,
impacts to the head, they don’t have to
be a concussion. It’s a slow deterioration so
sometimes people have trouble connecting the dots. When they’re in their forties. And they stop playing,
maybe, in their thirties. So, people don’t make the link. [Bob] Kelli and Todd
didn’t make that link. I got a call from Todd one day
and he was out driving and he said, I don’t know where I am. His voice sounded very serious. And I knew something was wrong. Your husband, tough guy,
who calls you on the phone, emotionally distraught and he
tells you that he is afraid. It’s frightening. And he was right over in the
corner of this shopping centre right here. And when I came, he was
sitting in one of these spots. When I got here I got out of the
car and I got in his truck with him. And I looked at him and he was
visibly shaken and I asked him if he was okay. And he followed me home. That’s just the tip of the
iceberg of living with it every day. [Announcer] ..and
the thing I like about Belak is he can do
it with both hands… He was going to go do
Battle of the Blades. [Bob] Shortly after
he retired, Wade Belak was looking forward
to a new chapter in his life. He was cast for the
Battle Of The Blades, the CBC’s reality show with
figure skaters and hockey players. I don’t get picked again. It’s just like
frickin’ junior high. [Bob] But before
heading to Toronto for the competition,
he needed to make sure he had enough of his
medication to last while he was away. He texted his doctor and
said, “I’m leaving town, need a refill of
my happy pills.” And that was it. So, he brought the
medication home. I remember. I said, “Why are
the bottles so big?” ‘Cause they came in a small
bottle for 30 days and that was it. And he’s like, “I
don’t know, Jenn, it’s the same stuff.” I’m like, okay, whatever. Didn’t put a stink about it. [Bob] The correct
dosage for Wade’s medication was one pill a day. The problem, Jenn says, the
directions on the bottle read “take two daily”. It was never
communicated to my husband. So, my husband just read the
bottle and did what it said. [Bob] What’s more,
Wade’s behaviour was changing, becoming
unpredictable. He had an episode
with their daughter. He was trying to brush her hair
after the bath and he smacked her with the brush. Which he has never done anything
like that and he smacked her and he smacked her and he smacked
her and she was screaming. And I ran in there and I whipped
the brush out of his hand and he was clueless. He was like, “Oh my gosh”, he
was like “What just happened?” “What was that?”
“What was I doing?” He didn’t know
what he was doing. [Bob] It was then
that Wade left for Toronto. And things got even worse. And he couldn’t sleep all night. He called me the next day. He’s like, “I can’t sleep,
I don’t even like being in my hotel room. I’m having a tough time.” I’m like, “Okay, maybe
you’re just nervous. You’re tired, you know,
you’re ice skating in ice skates all day.” Then I would talk to him
and he was like giddy, like crazy, like
hyper, hyper, hyper, hyper. Something was going on. Something big was going on. -In his mind?
-In his mind, yeah. He took his own life. [reporter] Today his body was
found inside this upscale Toronto hotel. Police called his death,
quote, “non-suspicious.” Staff at the hotel
where he was found, say Belak always
seemed happy and upbeat. With suicide, there is so much
questioning and so much guilt and so much just
left to nothing. I just was drowning, you know? Blaming myself. What did I not see. I know this man would
never have killed himself. Just be, like
’cause he wanted to die, I just couldn’t accept that. One of the
characteristics of this, seems to be that you’re
left to go through it alone, just as Kelli Ewen was. Yeah, it’s not a fun time. And you focused on
the prescription? I focused very much
on the prescription. [Bob] Jenn Belak
successfully sued the doctor who gave Wade
that prescription. And she also made sure
to fulfill Wade’s wish, that if something
happened to him, she would have his
brain tested for CTE, which showed his brain
was riddled with it. So, I think it was just
like a perfect storm of, you know, a medication gone bad. Someone that
already had, you know, brain trauma with CTE. If he wouldn’t have taken the
medication or doubled the dose, you know, would it
have still happened down the line, probably. You know? [Bob] When we come
back, hockey wives versus the NHL. Mr. Bettman, I’m Bob
McKeown from the CBC… ♪ ♪ I’ll take you guys to
the daughter’s rooms. This is Alex’s room. So, she has all like her
volleyball trophies and she has a lot of pictures up of Wade,
when he was on some tickets. That is Daddy’s favourite… No, I don’t like country. That was his favourite. That is retired when
we left Nashville. [Singing] I don’t ever want
them to forget him. You know, he was
a great dad and, you know, they were young. They were five-and-a-half
and seven when he passed. She looks a lot like Wade too. When I look at her and she does
these certain expressions and she’s a goofball like him. [Bob] Wade Belak’s
daughter, Alex, now is a teenager. I wish I had that when I can see
him out on the bench or giving me a hug after a
game or high-fiving me. [Bob] Wade was just 35 when he killed himself in
August 2011, the third in a cluster of
tragic and sudden deaths of NHL enforcers that summer. Derek Boogaard was
28, Rick Rypien, 27. All had suffered
numerous concussions, a wake up call for the
National Hockey League. Or it could have been. Todd and I used to
walk this every day. Most days that he could go. [Bob] Kelli Ewen
says her husband Todd worried about what
that lethal summer might mean for him. He wouldn’t live to
see his 50th birthday. He ended his life in this house,
so it was so many emotions wrapped together. A lot of hard times. Emotional hard times there. [Bob] Afterwards,
the Ewen family was contacted by the
Canadian Concussion Centre in Toronto asking to
study Todd’s brain. Because I knew
something was wrong. And I thought, maybe
this is the answer. And as I read the
articles about it, I could just
check off the boxes, just one after another. And I thought,
this has to be it. [Bob] But then, she
got the Canadian test results. She called and she said
Todd did not have CTE. I literally fell to my knees. I was crushed and I
thought, it can’t be true. It can’t be true. The results were
bad news for you. Were they good news for
the National Hockey League? Oh yeah. Gary Bettman started
to use that publicly, litigating the class action
lawsuit publicly with Todd’s results. [Announcer] ..they
were going to have a fight… [Bob] That lawsuit in 2015, was between the NHL and more than 300 former players who argued
the League didn’t do enough to protect them from brain injury. [Announcer] ..landing
a couple of upper cuts. [Bob] But the NHL maintained there’s no medical proof hockey, concussions and CTE are linked. Gary Bettman even used
Todd Ewen as “exhibit a’, claiming he didn’t kill
himself because of CTE, but because of all the
media hype around it. I was hurt. I was hurt for Todd. I thought they are taking
this man’s name and dragging it through the mud for their
benefit for this lawsuit. [Bob] The lawsuit eventually was settled with no liability, when the NHL agreed to pay
the players’ limited medical expenses plus $2200 US apiece. And the League continues to
deny any responsibility for the players with CTE who’ve died. Which is why Kelli Ewen
is a woman on a mission. She went to the CTE center at
Boston University where Dr Ann Mckee gave her a second
opinion and a second chance. She said, “I want you to know
that your instincts were right, were correct. Todd did have CTE.” That was a big moment for me. That was a big moment for Todd. I finally had a reason. I finally understood
what was happening to him. And it was good and
sad at the same time. She says, if only he knew. If he knew, it
would have been hope. If you know, you get a
label you can live with it. He would have been
able to live with it. It was the not knowing. Feeling that he can’t control
what he’s thinking or doing and not knowing and no one
really taking it seriously. You can deal with it, if
you can just get a label. You have filed a lawsuit against
the National Hockey League. What are you asking? The main reason,
to bring awareness. To bring it into light. It’s not about money. You know? It’s about the pain, the
agony, the years of duress. I feel like it’s the NHL’s
responsibility to stand up and take care of these players that
this great game of hockey was built on these
fighters, that gave, essentially their
lives for the NHL. And it’s time for them to step
up and admit and help them get the help that they need. Our players like the way the NHL
game is played and understand the implications of playing a
physical contact sport at the highest professional
level in the world. [Bob] THe NHL’s rules have been changed to better protect players from blows to the head. But the League insists
it’s not a matter of fault, just the evolution of the sport. There is a public response
among some people that these are hockey players. They’re making
millions of dollars a year. They knew what they were
getting themselves into. They did not know. They know what they’re
getting themselves into now. They didn’t know what they were
getting themselves into back then. If you could go
back and say to them, hey, give back your 2, 3, 4
million dollars that you made and we’ll give you
back your brain. I guarantee you, they
would give it back. It’s scary. What’s the point of playing
professional sports when it’s supposed to be for
the memories, you know. And you can’t
remember that anymore. It’s… [Bob] Today, Daniel
Carcillo finds himself in the
midst of yet another fight. This time on social media,
telling his story in videos online like this one. I wish that I had been given the
information that was withheld from me while I
played in the NHL. And I can’t lay my head on
the bed when I see injustice. The truth. Tell the fucking truth. No, no, no… I don’t love the NHL. I love the game of hockey. [Bob] As for Gary
Bettman, invited to testify on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, he described the
NHL in very different terms. At the end of the day we
view ourselves as our family, and our resources are available
to the members of our family. [Bob] The Carcillos disagree. And with the loss of so
many players already, Ela wonders if her
husband, Daniel, might be next. They put their whole lives into,
into playing hockey and being the best of the best. And, when that
happens and once it’s over, then what? You know? Like it shouldn’t
just be, oh, that’s it, sorry guys. See ya later. [Bob] So Daniel and
Ela have started a foundation called
“Chapter Five” to help other NHLers
grapple with the same issues they’ve confronted. [Daniel] It’s basically in its
essence a transition program to help athletes transition
into life after the game. Let’s swing a little bit
and then we’ll charge it up. Just in case it doesn’t work. [Ela] And he has his good days
but he also has his bad days. But doesn’t everyone? [Daniel] Ela plays a really big
role in talking with the
family members and the wives. About just signs and
symptoms to recognize. Just some warning,
some simple warnings. [Ela] And also sharing our story
too so they understand that they’re not the only ones.
Right? Like, I’m very open to,
about what we have gone through. Hey, how are you? -Good, how are you?
-Good. Jennifer. -Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you too. [Bob] But as much
as Ela Carcillo wants to support other hockey wives, she is in need
of support herself. We brought her
together with Jenn Belak. [Ela] We went from like 0
to 60 very quickly, you know. And I’m trying to like
keep myself together. And everyone’s always asking
questions of what’s wrong with him? And everyone looks fine, right? -They look fine.
-Yeah. Daniel, he’s the same way. And they’re looking for relief. -Just as much.
-Yeah. Anything.
Anything. Anything that takes away
the pain that they feel on an everyday basis. You know? I think it’s– I’m so sorry that
you’re going through what you’re going through. And, the good thing is, at least
your husband is doing so much to try and better himself and
to make himself feel better. You know, my husband didn’t… He didn’t know, right? He didn’t know. We didn’t know. I’m very, very proud of
Daniel, from where he has been, and where he is now. You know, Wade had
CTE so, it’s like, okay. You know? Um, are these
reaffirmations that, that I’m gonna have CTE? I mean, maybe. There’s a, there’s a
pretty good chance. You know, I’ll be 35 in
January and that’s when a lot of these guys seem to, or lately,
have seemed to fall off and uh… Does that scare you? No. I feel like I’m
going the opposite way. You know? I feel like I’m getting better. [Bob] We have
questions for the NHL about all this. When they refused
our repeated requests, we tracked down
Commissioner Gary Bettman. Mr. Bettman! I’m Bob McKeown from the CBC. How are you? Nice to see you. We’re doing a piece, we’re doing
a piece on Kelli Ewen and Jenn Belak and the other women
whose husbands developed CTE. Just like to know sir, if
there’s anything you’d like to say to them? [Bob] The Commissioner’s
answer evidently, is still no. [♪♪] This is something that Todd
and I used to do together. It made him really happy
which made me really happy. [Bob] Kelli, Jen and Ela say
they feel like outsiders, not members of Gary
Bettman’s NHL family, who they believe have abandoned
them and especially their husbands. At least admit it’s real. That would go a long way
with a lot of the families. Just admit. We are all doing this, not
because it’s something that we necessarily want to do. We feel driven out of love
for our loved ones to do it. [♪♪]