Derek Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment by members of his family on Friday. He was 28.
Boogaard, a 6-foot-7, 265-pound enforcer from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, was one of the most feared fighters in the NHL. He skated in 22 games with the Rangers this season and scored his first goal since 2006 on November 9. He was sidelined by a concussion for the majority of the season after being injured during a fight – the 70th of his NHL career, and 7th as a Ranger – on December 9 against the Senators’ Matt Carkner.
“Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual,” said Rangers General Manager Glen Sather. “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.”
“At a loss for words,” Brandon Prust said on Twitter. “I’ll miss my roomy Derek Boogaard. You will be missed by everyone. Great friend and teammate.”
Boogaard started his National Hockey League career with the Minnesota Wild, where he played for five seasons. During his six-year NHL career, he amassed three goals, 13 assists, and 589 penalty minutes.
“The Minnesota Wild organization sends our deepest sympathies to the family of Derek Boogaard,” said the Wild organization 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.”
Boogaard was signed by the Rangers as a free agent on July 1, 2010.
“The NHLPA is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Derek Boogaard,” said NHLPA Executive Director Don Fehr. “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.”
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner said an autopsy is pending.