Derek Boogaard: NHL Community Reactions to Rangers Enforcer's Passing
Boogaard, who played 22 games with the Rangers this season, was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment yesterday by his two brothers, Aaron and Ryan. He was just 28 years old.
A cause of death is still unknown at this time, and autopsy results are expected to take up to two weeks to arrive.
Boogaard was in the first of a four-year deal with New York, but his season was cut short due to a concussion and shoulder injury. He had one goal and 45 penalty minutes.
Members of the hockey community have chosen to reflect on Boogaard's life and personality rather than speculate on the reason for his death. Through the power of Internet news and social media sites, many NHL players, reporters, fans and others have shared their thoughts on Boogaard's sudden passing.
The condolences are still coming in 24 hours after the news was first broken. Let's look back at what some in the hockey world have said through a variety of mediums.
All quotes were gathered by me on various websites and will be cited accordingly.
Sean Avery, Rangers Forward
The sometimes controversial Avery had heartfelt words about his deceased teammate:
"As big of a man as Derek was, his heart was even bigger. I hope that his family, friends and most importantly, those who didn't know him, understand what a great teammate he was and how much he meant to us all."
Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild Goaltender
"I don't know how to describe it. 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 was. 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."
Gary Bettman, NHL Commissioner
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman released a statement on the league's website today:
"The news that we have lost someone so young and so strong leaves everyone in the National Hockey League stunned and saddened. The NHL sends its deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Derek Boogaard, to those who played and worked with him and to everyone who enjoyed watching him compete."
Paul Bissonnette, Phoenix Coyotes Forward
Bissonnette, one of the most popular NHL players on Twitter, posted the following on his account last night:
"Had to call my folks after hearing that awful news. Derek Boogaard you were pure nails on the ice, and an even better person off. R.I.P."
Brian Boyle, Rangers Teammate
Boyle was one of a few Rangers players who gave his thoughts to the media on the NHL's website.
"He was a great person. He really was. He was such a caring guy, an unselfish guy. He put himself in front of bullets for the guys... I will remember him fondly, and I think we all will. There are so many great things Boogey brought to the team and to our lives. For however long you knew him, it was a blessing because on the ice he was an amazing teammate, and off the ice he was an even better friend."
Matt Carle, Philadelphia Flyers Defenseman
Carle said this on his Twitter last night:
"Terrible news about Derek Boogaard, can't say I knew him, but its always a sad day when someone in the hockey world passes away. #condolences."
Michael Del Zotto, Rangers Teammate
Del Zotto posted two separate reactions to Boogaard's death on his Twitter.
The first is from last night:
"Boogy, you will be missed! Condolenses to the Boogaard family. The world lost an amazing friend and teammate."
He wrote a follow-up just a short time ago:
"Still in shock over the boogey man. Miss him so much! Such a down to earth, laid back, amazing friend. Thoughts going to the Boogaard family."
Chris Drury, Rangers Captain
Rangers captain Chris Drury put out a statement on Blueshirts United, an interactive website for Rangers fans:
"On behalf of all of Derek's teammates, I would like to say that he was a great friend and a great teammate and that we are all going to miss him dearly. This is a tragic loss for the hockey community. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
Donald Fehr, Executive Director of NHL Players Association
Fehr issued a statement that was reprinted on multiple websites:
"The NHLPA is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Derek Boogaard. Derek was a well-liked and respected member of the NHLPA, and his passing is a great loss to the entire hockey community. Our sincere condolences to Derek's many friends and family during this difficult time."
Marian Gaborik, Rangers Teammate
Rangers forward Marian Gaborik posted quotes to Blueshirts United not long after hearing the news while in his home country of Slovakia. He was a teammate of Boogaard's in Minnesota and New York.
"It was devastating news...we got along together great. We helped each other out on the ice and off the ice. We were very close. I tried to help him along in New York, and we had a very good relationship. It's just very sad. We had a lot of good times together. He was a really easygoing guy, really caring. We talked pretty much about everything. He's just the type of guy who would be there for you whenever you needed him."
Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks Defenseman
Hamhuis played junior hockey with Boogaard when they were members of the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League. He also spoke to NHL.com on Saturday:
"It was kind of shocking. I played with him in junior, and it's certainly very sad. He was a really good guy, certainly very quiet. He played a difficult role being a fighter, and he and I were pretty good friends in junior. It's sad to see that happen."
Georges Laraque, Retired NHL Enforcer
Laraque spent 12 seasons in the NHL and was familiar with Boogaard as a rival, but also respected him as a player. He posted the following on his Twitter account:
"my condolences to the Boogaard family, Derek past away this morning, it was the toughest guy in the NHL, my friend and biggest rival."
Craig Leipold, Minnesota Wild Owner and Governor
Leipold posted a statement on the Wild's website on Saturday to share his memories of Boogaard and offer condolences.
"The entire Minnesota Wild family and hockey world was saddened to learn of the passing of Derek Boogaard. Derek was certainly one of the most popular players in Wild history with the fans and was a great community representative. He brought an exuberant smile to the rink every day and gave his all on the ice.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Boogaard family during this challenging time.
"Derek will be missed by all of us."
Boogaard was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2001. Upon hearing news of his passing, the team released a statement on their website:
"The Minnesota Wild 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. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boogaard family during this tragic time of loss."
Prince George Cougars
Boogaard's junior team, the Prince George Cougars of the WHL, put out a press release on their website:
"The Prince George Cougars are deeply saddened to report the passing of alumnist Derek Boogaard.
"Derek was a member of the Prince George Cougars from 1999-2001. Early in his Cougars career, Boogaard became a fan favourite, compiling a total of 410 penalty minutes in 96 regular season games in Prince George. Boogaard had one goal and eight assists for nine points while with the Cougars. Among Derek’s highlights while playing in Prince George was a playoff overtime goal Boogaard scored in game 3 of the Cougars first round series against the Portland Winterhawks in 2001.
"Derek was 28 at the time of his passing. On behalf of all Cougars fans, the Cougars extend our most heart felt sympathies to Derek’s family and friends."
Brandon Prust, Rangers Teammate
Prust made the following statement on his Twitter account last night:
"At a loss for words. I'll miss my roomy Derek Boogaard. You will be missed by everyone. Great friend and teammate."
He gave this quote to Blueshirts United today:
"I am still in shock. It keeps hitting me on and off all day as I'm driving home. Though he was a fighter on the ice, he was definitely a gentle giant off the ice. He was just a real good guy, a team guy all the way. I've been looking at some of the silly pictures I have from when we were roommates and it just hits me what a good guy he was. I still can't believe I am referring to him in the past tense."
Jeremy Roenick, Former NHL Player and NBC and Versus Analyst
Roenick spoke highly of Boogaard on his Twitter account, even though the two had never met:
"I'm so sad to hear about Derek boogaard! He was tough as nails and even though I didn't know him I heard he was a great guy! U will b missed!"
Michael Russo, Minnesota Wild Beat Writer
Russo is the Wild beat writer for the Star Tribune and originally broke the news on Boogaard's passing. He posted some personal thoughts on his Twitter in between late night media appearances on Friday.
"I am reading these texts I got from Boogaard last few weeks in absolute astonishment. He was so looking forward to having a big summer. He was so determined to try to return to New York and get back to being the old Boogaard after a very trying year. This is just nauseating."
Glen Sather, Rangers General Manager
Sather made a statement on Boogaard's passing shortly after the news came out on Friday:
"Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual. 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."