MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — At a hockey rink in Edina, a youth tournament may have kept everyone’s focus on the ice, but the conversation centered around Derek Boogaard, the former Wild enforcer who died in his Minneapolis apartment Friday evening.
“I actually had tears in my eyes. It was hard,” said Carolyn Dehling, a Boogaard fan.
“He’s a bully on the ice but a sweetheart off,” she said.
Fans remember Boogaard as a team leader, one who had no problem throwing his weight around on the ice.
“I think he just brought the players to a different level, because they could feel more secure,” said Tim Collins, a Wild fan. “He would come on the ice if there was a problem.”
As the Wild’s enforcer from 2005 to 2010, Boogaard became one of the most feared players in the NHL.
“He was just kind of a surprise every time he went on the ice. I thought: “God, what are we going to see this time,” said Wild fan Steve Collins.
Boogaard’s younger fans remember him putting on a good show.
“He’s aggressive and he fights for the puck,” Boogaard fan Andrew Darsow said.
Boogard left the Wild a year ago to play for the New York Rangers, but it’s clear he still has a fan following in Minnesota.
“He meant a lot, to a lot of people, and I just think everybody just liked him for who he was,” Collins said.
Boogaard’s mother flew into Minnesota from Canada today, but the family says it isn’t ready to talk. Boogaard’s funeral will take place in Regina, Canada.
On Sunday, there will be a memorial service at Gate 1 of the Excel Energy Center from 6 p.m.to 9 p.m.