Sportress of Blogitude

Derek Boogaard 1982-2011

Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment at 6:10 p.m Friday night by members of his family. He was 28-years-old. A six-year NHL veteran, “Boogeyman” was known as a bruising, hulking enforcer, but for those who knew him personally, he was much more than that: thoughtful, caring, humorous, loyal. A “big teddy bear” was how former teammate, Niklas Backstrom referred to the big guy with a big heart (via Star Tribune):

“I don’t know how to describe it,” said goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who sat 6 feet away from Boogaard in the Wild locker room for four years. “It’s really hard. Unreal guy. Great friend and an awesome teammate. Just a really big teddy bear. Outside the rink, he didn’t want bad for anyone.

“If you don’t know him, if you just know him by what he does on the ice, you don’t know how great he is. Smiling every day. At the rink, I don’t think he was mad at anyone ever. I just want to send my condolences to Boogey’s family.”

Since learning of his death, many others within the NHL community have shared similar sentiments about Boogaard. During his five seasons with the Minnesota Wild, Boogaard developed into a fan favorite – and perhaps one of the most popular and well-liked Wild players in its history – which was abundantly evident by the prominence of Wild sweaters bearing his name which were seen every game at the X. Wild fans were sad to see him go when he joined the New York Rangers this past season as a free agent, but never forgot the thrills he delivered on the ice, always giving it his all, always taking care of his teammates.

I only learned of Boogey’s death this morning when I woke up and picked up my newspaper on the front stoop. To say I was tremendously saddened by reading the headline would be an understatement. Boogaard was one of my all-time favorite hockey players, both for what he did on the ice but also for how he carried himself off it: with his trademark wit, class, dignity and humility. I have rarely had more fun writing than the many, many offbeat posts I did with Boogaard as the subject when I wrote for Melt Your Face Off.

Rest in peace, Derek. You will be sorely missed by your friends and family and everyone else you have touched during your far too short time on Earth. But not only that, you will be missed by people who never were lucky enough to get the opportunity to meet you. Thoughts and prayers.

Note: for those of you in the Twin Cities area, Wild fans are holding a memorial service at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul on Sunday at 6:00 p.m.

Ex-Wild tough guy Derek Boogaard found dead in Minneapolis apartment [Star Tribune]