A dark week for the Minnesota Wild family took another tragic turn on Friday with the news of Derek Boogaard's passing. The news comes one week after Luke Stoner, the brother of Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner
, died unexpectedly in a work accident. Boogaard was found in his apartment in Minneapolis, where he was spending his offseason.
"The Minnesota Wild organization sends our deepest sympathies to the family of Derek Boogaard," said the Wild in a statement. "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."
The 28-year-old native of Regina, Sask., was a seventh-round draft pick of the Wild in 2001. He saw his first action in the NHL in the 2005-06 season, playing 65 games in which he tallied six points (2-4=6) and 158 penalty minutes, a figure for which he still holds the franchise record for most penalty minutes by a rookie.
Boogaard quickly became a fan favorite for his dominance over opponents when the gloves were dropped and his soft-spoken nature off the ice. His #24 Wild jersey was one of the most popular jerseys among Wild fans.
"Boogey" or "The Boogey Man" was beloved in the Wild locker room for his jovial nature and gentle giant demeanor. On the ice, he was one of the most feared and respected enforcers in the National Hockey League. He strictly abided by "the code," refraining from cheap shots, and squaring off with opponents only when they were willing. Off the ice, he was everybody's friend and a huge supporter of community initiatives including "Defending the Blue Line."
Boogaard made no secret of his love of playing in Minnesota, and the fans he had here. When it came time for public appearances or travels on the Wild's summer Road Tour, Boogey was a fixture. In the summer of 2006, his leg of the Road Tour in Southern Minnesota saw enormous crowds line up as kids and adults alike clamored for the chance to meet him. Nobody left disappointed.