As Wild fans, teammates and colleagues mourn the passing of former player Derek Boogaard, Wild Owner and Governor Craig Leipold issued the following statement Saturday:
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 every night on the ice.
A number of thoughts go through my mind as I think of Derek. One is the first time I met him in early 2008. I was well aware of Derek's reputation as a tough guy. He was in the locker room in dress clothes, glasses and hair combed. I thought he was an investment banker. He introduced himself to me and we had a brief conversation. I didn't want to bother him because he was busy signing autographs. This was something, I came to learn, he did a lot of.
Second, Derek would never fight someone who wasn't in his “class”. He never wanted to hurt anybody. He had too much respect for the game, and the players had total respect for him.
Lastly, I received a phone call last night at 1:00 a.m. from my son, Connor, who is a freshman in college. Connor interned for the Wild last year, and his favorite person (not just player) was Derek. You could hear in his voice just how affected he was, since he had just learned of Derek's passing. He had a lot of questions, and I had no answers.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Boogaard family during this challenging time.
Derek will be missed by all of us.