Tag: death

Boogaard Family

Wild sign Aaron Boogaard, honor Derek Boogaard and Pavol Demitra with helmet sticker


From a pure on-ice perspective, the Minnesota Wild hope to turn the page in 2011-12.

They traded away two 2011 All-Stars (Martin Havlat and Brent Burns) to make over their offense with volume shooter Devin Setoguchi and sniper Dany Heatley. The hope is that last season’s unusually porous defense will get at least a slight boost from under-the-radar additions such as Mike Lundin, although that seems like a long shot with Burns out of the picture. GM Chuck Fletcher’s biggest move might be in his coaching staff, however, as he fired head coach Todd Richards in favor of Mike Yeo.

As much as the franchise wants to put several unsuccessful seasons in its rear-view mirror, Monday involved some bittersweet nods to their past.

On the sad side, people will only need to look at a the team’s helmets to see that the Wild rank among the NHL’s hardest-hit teams when it comes to this summer of tragedy. The Wild will wear a commemorative “24/38” sticker on their helmets this season to honor Derek Boogaard and Pavol Demitra, two former Minnesota Wild players who died in heartbreaking ways this summer. Boogaard accidentally overdosed from a lethal mixture of painkillers and alcohol while Demtira died in the horrific Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash. Boogaard wore number 24 while Demitra donned the 38 during their days with the Wild.

Speaking of the Boogaard family, they received some promising news today: Derek’s brother Aaron signed a two-way contract with the Wild today. Minnesota picked him in the sixth round (175th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but Boogaard bounced around a bit while never playing a regular season game in the NHL. He racked up 172 penalty minutes in just 53 games with the CHL’s Laredo Bucks in 2010-11.

Aaron received two charges related to his alleged role in his brother’s death: third-degree sale of a controlled substance (a possible felony) and interfering with a death (gross misdemeanor if convicted). It’s unclear if that situation has been completely settled yet, but Michael Russo reports that he shouldn’t have visa issues.

The Wild plans to sign Aaron Boogaard to an AHL two-way contract, meaning with Houston or a lower-level team, like the East Coast or Central Hockey League. Boogaard landed in Houston this afternoon and arrived in time for the start of training camp. This has been in the works for some time but was held up due to a visa issue because of the legal trouble he’s in for allegedly giving an illegal, controlled substance to his brother, Derek, prior to his death and interfering with a scene of death.

The visa issue has since been cleared up.

“We want to give Aaron an opportunity to continue his hockey career,” Houston GM Jim Mill said. “We’re trying to help him out.”

Who knows if Aaron could ever crack an NHL lineup as an enforcer like his brother Derek, but it’s nice to hear that the Wild organization is willing to give him a chance to keep his hockey career alive after that devastating event.

Hockey world reacts to Wade Belak’s death

Wade Belak
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In the wake of the NHL’s third horrific tragedy this offseason, the hockey world is starting to understand the weight of today’s events and come to terms with the heartbreak. Throughout the afternoon, both current and former players, announcers, agents, and journalists have all shared the sympathy and exchanged their thoughts on Wade Belak’s passing today. The common theme is that Belak was an unbelievably kind man who was quick to share a joke and bring laughter to people’s lives. Once again, the hockey world has lost one of its own way too soon.

Instead of sharing my individual thoughts, here’s a sample of the outpouring for the man who leaves behind a wife and two children. If you have any thoughts, please feel free to share them in the comments.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney:

“Such sad news about Wade Belak. Always heard great things about him. Thought go out to his family. RIP.”

Calgary Flames’ statement via James Mirtle (The Globe and Mail):

“We are deeply saddened with the news of Wade’s passing. We are proud that Wade wore the Calgary uniform and we will always remember him as member of the Flames Family. We would like to express our sincere sympathies to the Belak family. This is a terrible loss of a vibrant young man; a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey.”

Eric Francis from the Calgary Sun and Hockey Night in Canada’s Hotstove

Wade Belak RIP. This one’s tough. As good a guy as you’d meet. He was great for the game and teammates. Sadness and shock hits hockey again.”

St. Louis Blues’ radio play-by-play man Chris Kerber:

“Boogard, Rypien, Belak – Their deaths may be purely coincidental & no similarities but at least a Q of are there similarities must be asked.”

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Mike Commodore:

“I remember skating with Wade 13 years ago at a summer camp when I was 18 and in college. He was a pro, he worked hard, he was funny and he was extremely nice to me and he didn’t have to be. I was just a college kid. I looked up to him ever since then. You’ll be missed Wade.”

Former NHL enforcer Chris Dingman speaking about his own experiences:

“Terrible news about belak. Had many battles with him in junior, tough guy on the ice, great guy off the ice. My heart goes out to his family. People think sports, and most just see a lifestyle. It is really hard mentally and physically. Especially hard when your done. When your done, your left to let ponder, what do I do with, myself now? Tough to ponder… More needs to be done to ease the transition.”

NHL agent Scott Norton:

“Boogard, Rypien and now Belak? Maybe we should spend less time worrying how they play on the ice, and more time helping em cope off?”

“Sports leagues r so proud about war on#steroids, when we gonna wake up + realize that booze, cocaine + pain killers r killing our athletes?”

Newly retired NHLer Dave Scatchard:

“This is the worst summer I’ve ever seen with regards to tragedies in the NHL. I pray this all ends here. #RIPwadebelak. #Iwillmissumyfriend”

Ex-teammate Jordin Tootoo:

“Very sad to loose a great teammate and a better person in Wade Belak. The Tootoo family send his family all our thoughts and prayers.”

Another ex-teammate in Steve Sullivan:

“RIP Wade. Great father, husband, teammate and friend. You leave us way too early. You will be missed. Strength to your family and friends!”

Adrian Dater from the Denver Post and Sports Illustrated:

“Wade Belak death will bring changes to NHL. Good guy, good family, but the life is brutal for a fighter and self esteem is low. I’ve seen it”

Predators beat-writer Joshua Cooper passed along some of GM David Poile’s thoughts:

“Poile: “Everybody knew when Wade Belak was in the room because he was big, he was loud and he was fun.”

But of all the people who have already shared their thoughts, perhaps Bruce Arthur of the National Post said it best:

“But if he was a tortured enforcer, he was also a great actor of the age. I never met a happier-seeming guy in hockey. He always seemed at ease; he was freshly retired, and in town to appear on the CBC’s reality show, where he surely would have been the star. Except he’s dead, and hockey feels sick again, right to its stomach.

Of all the guys who play that increasingly anachronistic role, Belak was the last guy you expected to die young. He apparently told a Calgary radio station last week that he was happy and healthy, and his head wasn’t ringing. When he talked about his retirement with the Post’s Sean Fitz-Gerald last week, he said, “I thought about having a press conference, but I didn’t want to make an ass of myself.”

Fans gather at Rogers Arena to celebrate Rick Rypien

Tyler Stychyshyn

Amidst a tragic and confusing time, fans in Vancouver decided to take the opportunity to honor Rick Rypien with a makeshift memorial at Rogers Arena on Wednesday afternoon. A Facebook group announced that there would be a gathering set up between 2:00-8:00 to pay their respects to a player who was known for giving it his all for his team. At the memorial there were books for fans to sign and express condolences—the line to sign the books that will be sent off to the Rypien family was at times 40-50 people long. Organizers said that halfway through the memorial that there were already 500 signatures and messages of condolences in the books with many more expected throughout the late afternoon and early evening. Even hours after the memorial was set to conclude, people are still paying their respects on a Facebook page set up for well-wishers. (You can as well.)

Here’s an example of the type of fans who showed up to pay their respects. From Mike Raptis of the Vancouver Province:

“30-year-old Dave Morgan from Vancouver brought the last Manitoba Moose jersey Rypien wore to the memorial and has talked to the Canucks organization about giving it back to the Rypien family.

“If the family would like it, I’m more than happy to send it off to them and bring them some happy memories,” Morgan said.

“If they don’t want it, then it will bring me happy memories for the rest of my life.”

From the CBC:

“He wasn’t a huge guy but he would always stick up for his teammates. He kind of inspired me to be tougher in my own life.”

The Canucks official site captured the scene with a good slideshow of various photos from the fan memorial outside Rogers Arena.

While there will be plenty of people using this tragedy to springboard a greater debate, today we focus on celebrating the life and career of a man whose soul had far too many demons. We celebrate the player who played with kind of speed and energy that even the hockey novice could understand. We celebrate a player who would stick up for his teammates and brought excitement to the Vancouver Canucks and Manitoba Moose for the last seven years. Save the debate for another day: today fighting is a part of our game—and you’d be hard pressed to a better pound-for-pound fighter than Rypien.

Without further adieu, here are some of his career highlights with the Ripper doing what he did best.

Oh, it’s playmaking you want? Rypien provided this beaut as well:

On this day where fans celebrated his life, our thoughts go out to his friends and family. We can’t even imagine the grief… may Rick rest in peace.

Update (8/18/11): Nucks Misconduct has some good pictures that captured the event very well.

Super Bowl XXVI MVP quarterback Mark Rypien speaks about death of cousin Rick

Mark Rypien
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The sad and untimely death of former Canucks forward Rick Rypien is bringing out an outpouring of emotion from all over the NHL world. Players, executives, and coaches are all expressing their grief over the discovery of Rypien being found dead in his Alberta,Canada home. After years of dealing with depression, reports of Rypien’s death ultimately being a suicide are rampant.

One person who knew Rick Rypien better than most is a fellow athlete and family member with the same last name. Former Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl XXVI MVP Mark Rypien was Rick’s cousin. As you’d expect, he was taken aback by the news of the sudden death of his troubled cousin. Sadly for Rypien, tragedy is something he’s too familiar with after losing his own son at age 3 to cancer.

Randy Sportak of Sun Media has Rypien’s take.

“It’s so surreal. Here one day and gone the next,” Mark Rypien said from Spokane.

“He was a young man whose best years were still ahead of him. From our family’s standpoint, it’s been a sad day and a half.”

“From seeing him two weeks ago and now he’s not with us anymore, it’s really tough,” Mark said. “It’s tough to think we were on a golf course having a cold beverage laughing and giggling, and here we are putting a young kid way too young into the ground.

“I’ve been there before with my own child and it’s not how the circle of life is supposed to be. You’re not supposed to put your children into the ground before yourselves.

“It’s a tough day.”

After reading so many takes on Rypien’s death, including a powerful one from The National Post’s Bruce Arthur, it’s the sort of thing that makes you reflect on your own life and think about those who you know that struggle with depression or to those you’ve lost to suicide. Those who deal with depression often do so in private which makes it so hard to try and help them out when the need it the most.

For a guy like Rypien who was getting as much help as he was from the Canucks organization and seemingly getting himself back in order to move on and look to restart his career with the Winnipeg Jets, seeing it all end now seems so out of the blue and so wrong. What this shows us is that depression can be battled and treated but it will always be there in some way. It doesn’t have to be obvious, it could just sit below the surface slowly eating away at one’s psyche.

Those that live with family or friends dealing with depression know how hard it can be and for those that deal with it personally they know all too well how hard it is to keep a consistently strong frame of mind. Sadly for Rick Rypien, even with a new start in the NHL ahead of him, things went wrong somewhere for him making what could’ve been a great comeback story into a terrible and saddening tragedy.


If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, never be afraid to reach out. The Depression and Bi-Polar Alliance can provide help and information there. The same applies for those who feel suicidal. Losing a loved one to suicide is a horrible experience and one that never leaves you. If you or someone you know whose feelings and problems are pushing them to contemplate suicide, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is the best resource and outreach group to turn to.

Aaron Boogaard receives two charges related to Derek Boogaard’s death


Upon hearing news that Aaron Boogaard was arrested on prescription fraud and drug possession charges on Wednesday, his family implied that those charges weren’t related to the May 13 death of his brother, former NHL enforcer Derek Boogaard. It was hard to believe that Aaron’s charges weren’t in some way related to Derek’s death (which resulted from a toxic mixture of oxycodone and alcohol) and an updated report from the Minnesota Star-Tribune clarifies that there might have been a connection.

Paul Walsh reports that Aaron received two charges. The first is that he was in control of the painkillers that ultimately lead to his brother’s death. The other is for allegedly flushing the remaining pills down the toilet between the time he called about Derek’s death and the time authorities arrived. Here is a more literal explanation of the two charges filed today.

1. “Third degree sale of a controlled substance” – if convicted, it would be a felony.

2. “Interference with a death” – which would be a gross misdemeanor if convicted.

Here’s a bit more from Walsh’s report.

Aaron routinely supplied his brother with drugs, and “it is our understanding that Aaron kept his brother’s non-prescribed, illegal drugs and attempted to parcel them out on some kind of limited basis,” said County Attorney Mike Freeman.

“It’s a tragic situation,” Freeman added. “The family has already suffered significant loss. That doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s wrong — and in this case it was tragic — for him to give him that drug.”

A toxicologist found traces of Percocet, OxyContin and oxycodone along with alcohol in Derek Boogaard’s body, making it difficult to say which substance killed him. That’s the only reason, Freeman said, that Aaron Boogaard wasn’t charged with murder or manslaughter.

Derek died at the age of 28 and now Aaron – a 24-year old sixth round pick (175th overall) by the Minnesota Wild in 2004 – might not just see the potential conclusion of his hockey career, but also the possibility of serious legal ramifications for his role in this unfortunate incident. The saddest part might be that the incident reportedly happened the day after Derek left treatment for the very substance abuse problems that ended his life. One can only imagine how the Boogaard family must be going through right now.

Here is a statement from Boogaard’s attorneys, via Michael Russo.

“We are pleased that Aaron Boogaard is with his family, having been released from custody by both Hennepin County and U.S. immigration authorities. We will address the allegations in court rather than in the media, but note that Aaron was and remains devastated by his brother’s death. The entire Boogaard family has suffered tremendous loss and we ask that you respect their privacy as they continue to mourn the death of Derek.”

Meanwhile, the top prosecutor on the case said that Aaron Boogaard “should have known better” than to give his brother narcotics the day after he finished a rehab session.

Walsh reports that Aaron posted bail on Friday afternoon and will reportedly appear in district court on Monday. We’ll let you know what happens in this very sad situation.

Click here for more information about the complaint and some video related to the charges.