At this point, you’re likely aware of last night’s shocking news that Derek Boogaard was found dead* in his apartment at 28 years old. Some people found out soon after word broke late Friday evening, yet others were stunned by the news this morning.
It’s an understatement to say that much of the hockey world has been blindsided by his death, especially considering his young age. A huge amount of people have shared their condolences about Boogaard’s passing; in fact, it would be daunting to provide every last remembrance.
That being said, we thought we’d share some of the more heartfelt and prominent odes to a man who was feared for his ability to throw his mits but beloved for his sense of humor and generosity.
First, SBNation Minnesota Wild blog Hockey Wilderness provides a memorial for Boogaard while at least one Facebook group also formed with that intention.
It’s quite possible that Minnesota Star-Tribune beat writer Michael Russo was one of the writers who knew the feared enforcer best, so it’s no surprise that he had a very emotional account of Boogaard. One thing that stood out from Russo’s blog post was Boogaard’s sense of humor.
For those of you who have been reading this space for years, you know Derek was a big contributor to this blog just by his pure humor. Many of my mornings were spent just going over to his locker-room stall, leaning against the wall and shooting the breeze.
Inevitably, something would happen hilarious enough to cause me to pull the notepad out of my back pocket and begin to write funny quips down, usually barbs between Boogey and Niklas Backstrom or Boogey and Cal Clutterbuck.
“He clicks when he sleeps,” Boogaard said. “He’s got something in his throat that, like, clicks. It’s timed. It’s like one of those big clocks.”
“Please,” said Clutterbuck, “look who’s talking. Mr. Snore-o-matic 3000 over there.”
The back and forths with Backstrom were gold, and my favorite Boogaard story is when Brent Burns was all over Boogaard for snoring. I wrote about it, and the next week, Boogaard ran up to me all excitedly. Local-based company Breathe Right sent him a box of nasal strips! Another great one was that Boogaard/Bouchard commercial they shot a few years back where Boogaard wakes up and tells Bouchard to quiet down so he doesn’t wake up the sleeping fans in their hotel room.
I can still hear Boogaard’s laugh or his baritone, “What’s up?”
The amount of reactions from NHL players who skated (and sometimes fought) against Boogaard is pretty staggering. Russo has some of them in his post, but here are some of the most heartfelt comments. Notice how many of them came from enforcers or guys who were likely to fight, which just shows how tight knit the hockey community can be.
Krys Barch (Dallas Stars):
Paul “BizNasty” Bissonnette (Phoenix Coyotes):
Ryan Jones (Edmonton Oilers):
Bobby Ryan (Anaheim Ducks):
And finally, Jeremy Roenick:
Again, keep in mind that this is just a sampling of the memorials and odes one can find regarding Boogaard. You’re welcome to leave your own remembrances, memories and other reflections regarding the popular fighter in the comments.
* – One thing to note is that reports indicate that no foul play was involved in his death.