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Derek Boogaard Dies, And Hockey Loses A Good Friend

Author Travis Hughes. Published on May 21, 2011 - 3:27 am (2441 views — 491 words)

Derek Boogaard fought his way to an NHL career, and just as is the case with most enforcers in the game, he had a genuine love for the sport.

On the ice, Derek Boogaard was as tough as they come. In my opinion, he was the toughest tough guy in the NHL, routinely turning guys like Jody Shelley, Colton Orr, Eric Godard and Todd Fedoruk into his play things throughout his six-year career with the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers.

But beneath the hard exterior that made his professional hockey dreams a reality, Boogaard was one of the nicest guys in the game. That's something that's true of just about all enforcers in the NHL, but Boogaard really was the embodiment of it.

He dedicated a huge part of his time to Defending the Blue Line, a charity that helps the children from military families stay involved with the game while their parents are fighting overseas. He was named one of DTBL's "All-Star MVPs," and one word out of the mouth of somebody who knew him could get the point across that he was special.

Here's what Michael Russo, a reporter for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune and a friend of Boogaard's had to say about his tragic passing:

"Boogaard was one of a kind. He may have been a 6-8 giant, but he was as gentle as they got. Quiet, funny and a whole lot smarter than people gave him credit for when it came to league happenings, drafting and anything to do with the sport of hockey.

Like most enforcers, he wasn't some street thug. He was a good guy who realized what he had to do to play professionally in the NHL. And he loved that the fans took to him. He loved the prestige that came with being the BoogeyMan. It's why he pronounced his name Booooogaard when his last name is really pronounced B-OH-GUARD.

He loved kids, he loved doing charity work, from Defending the Blue Line, to the Police Athletic League, to Second Harvest.

Derek and I texted a lot about all sorts of things. I've talked to him a lot lately, a lot this past week via text. In fact, I nearly texted him this afternoon when I was walking down by his new apartment in the Warehouse District. But I knew he had just gotten back from LA with Aaron and I knew Ryan was coming in this afternoon.

He was so looking forward to the "3 Boogaards" hanging.

Derek texted me Thursday asking me what followers and following meant on Twitter. I told him, asked why he wanted to know, and he told me he met with a PR firm while in LA and planned to join Twitter. I told him to let me know when he launches, and I'd pump it up. He wrote back, "Perfect!"

That will be the last I'll ever hear from Derek, and that's killing me right now."