Awful news to relay, as former Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead Friday in his Minneapolis apartment by members of his family. Boogaard was only 28 years old.
I've been following sports for most of my 30-something years on this planet, and I've covered them since I was old enough to cover sports. You become desensitized in a way to a lot of things, but death is not one of them.
When an active athlete is taken from the world, you react. You're probably floored at the thought of someone this young who is obviously in decent physical condition passing away.
But sometimes, it hits harder than others. This is one of those times.
Boogaard was a special figure in Minnesota sports during his time with the Wild. Not only was he a fan favorite because of his antics on the ice, but he was one of the team's most visible and liked figures off it. His community service was second to none, and tons of youngsters grew up looking up to Boogaard in ways much more meaningful than the physical sense.
A statement from the New York Rangers ...
The New York Rangers are very saddened to announce the passing of Derek Boogaard.
“Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual,” said New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather. “He was a very thoughtful person, who will be dearly missed by all those who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates during this difficult time.”
Boogaard began his NHL career with Minnesota and appeared in 255 career games with the Wild from 2005-06 – 2009-10. He joined the New York Rangers on July 1, 2010, appearing in 22 games in the 2010-11 season.
Throughout his career, Boogaard sought to make a difference in the communities he played in, taking part in numerous charitable endeavors. Boogaard was a supporter of the Defending the Blue Line Foundation, a non-profit charitable foundation whose mission is to ensure that children of military members are afforded every opportunity to participate in the great sport of hockey.
While with the Rangers, he created “Boogaard’s Booguardians,” hosting military members and their families at all New York Ranger home games. In addition, he made multiple appearances with partner organizations of the Garden of Dreams Foundation, the non-profit charity that works closely with all areas of Madison Square Garden, including the New York Knicks, Rangers, Liberty, MSG Media, MSG Entertainment and Fuse “to make dreams come true for kids facing obstacles”.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan native was originally Minnesota’s seventh round choice, 202nd overall, in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
And also from the Wild ...
The Minnesota Wild organization sends our deepest sympathies to the family of Derek Boogaard.
Derek was a fan favorite during his five seasons with the Wild and will be greatly missed here in Minnesota and throughout the NHL.
I don't have any words, outside of the requisite sympathies to Boogaard's family, friends, teammates, former teammates, and the gaggle of others who got to know and appreciate him over the years.
Instead of trying to muster up words I just don't have right now, here are some favorite on-ice moments over the years. We'll cap it with his infamous goal against the Capitals last season, which was made infinitely more entertaining by the fact Joe Beninati was calling it for Versus. And who can ever forget David Koci trying to run like a scalded dog while Boogaard was beating the hell out of him?