Sunday, May 15, 2011
Derek Boogaard passed away unexpectedly on Friday, found dead in his Minneapolis apartment by his brothers Ryan and Aaron, who is also a professional hockey player.
Derek began his path to the NHL with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League before moving to the Prince George Cougars in the 1999-00. At 6' 7", 265 lbs. he was never fleet of foot and his role as an enforcer became apparent early when his finished his first season of junior hockey with a combined 38 games played, no points and 166 penalty minutes.
In 2000-01 he returned to Prince George and played in 61 games, scoring one goal and eight assists and 245 penalty minutes. Following that season he realized the dream of so many young Canadian boys when he was taken in the NHL Draft, 202nd overall in the 7th round by the Minnesota Wild ahead of names such as Christobal Huet (214th), Johnny Oduya (221st), Marek Svatos (227th) and Martin Gerber (232nd).
After starting the 2001-02 season with the Cougars, he moved to the Medicine Hat Tigers where, in 46 games, he duplicated his one goal and eight assists exactly while accumulating 178 penalty minutes.
After 27 games with Medicine Hat in 2002-03, Boogaard turned professional with the Louisiana Ice Gators of the ECHL, quite a distance from St. Paul and the NHL. In 33 games with the IceGators, Boogaard amassed 240 penalty minutes, and average of 7.27 minutes per game.
The Wild then assigned Boogaard to their top minor league affiliate, the Houston Aeros of the AHL. There, "The Boogeyman" led the Aeros in penalty minutes for two seasons, with 207 in 53 games 2003-04 and 259 in 56 games during the lockout season of 2004-05, protecting the likes of Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Mikko Koivu.
With the NHL back in action for 2005-06, Boogaard made his NHL debut on October 5, 2005 in a 6-3 win over the Calgary Flames in Minnesota. His first point game on October 14th with an assist on a Wes Walz goal at 3:06 of the second period of a game against the Vancouver Canucks.
His first NHL fight came during the very next Wild game two nights later when he fought Kip Brennan of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim at 10:44 of the first period in Minnesota, the first time Boogaard would cause the Wild faithful to rise to their feet when he caught Brennan square in the face and dropped him. Note in the video, the Wild's own announcers have yet to settle on the eventual pronunciation of Boogaard's last name he was so new to the NHL.
The next time Boogaard caused the fans to roar their approval was just 8:23 later when he would meet Todd Fedoruk for the first time, gamely taking on the veteran Fedoruk, whom he would fight again later in his career, with disastrous results for Fedoruk.
The Wild's next game was against the San Jose Sharks on October 19th, and Boogaard once more got the fans out of their seats, only this time it was with the first goal of his career at 2:10 of the third period against goaltender Evgeni Nabokov to give the Wild a 2-1 lead on their way to a 6-1 win, earning Boogaard credit for the game winning goal. Less than eight minutes later it was back to business as usual when he fought Rob Davidson of the Sharks.
Boogaard's second goal of the season came on January 7, 2006 at 9:08 of the first period in a 4-1 Wild win over the Mighty Ducks. He finished the season with 6 points and 158 penalty minutes in 65 games and rapidly became a fan favorite for his willingness to drop the gloves and devastating punching ability.
HockeyFights.com shows 16 fights for Boogaard that season with voters favoring Boogaard 9 times with 2 draws.
That punching ability was never demonstrated more than with his fight with Fedoruk on October 27, 2006 when he broke Fedoruk's cheekbone with one very solid punch, necessitating reconstructive surgery for Fedoruk.
Boogaard played in 48 games that season, finishing with 120 penalty minutes but no goals. His fight card has him involved in 10 brawls, with voters favoring him eight times.
Boogaard, with his brother Aaron, ruffled some feathers in the summer of 2007 when they put on their inaugural "Derek & Aaron Boogaard Fighting Camp" for kids aged 12 to 18 with the goal of "showing kids how to look after themselves when they're on the ice" with the intent of teaching the kids how to avoid getting hurt during fights. Many critics though, did not see it that way and criticized the camp, claiming the brothers Boogaard were setting a bad example. The Boogaards did not help themselves at all with their gory camp logo t-shirts, a true classic in the mold of the movie Slap Shot.
Derek was limited to just 34 games in 2007-08, but equalled his fight total of the season before with 10, earning the win in 7 of those and one draw.
2008-09 saw The Boogeyman compete in 51 games for Minnesota as his popularity grew with the fans of the Wild, as the numerous #24 jerseys in attendance at the Xcel Energy Center would testify to. Along with the growth of his popularity, his goalless streak was also growing, as he failed to score for the third consecutive season, sending his name higher up the list of longest streaks without a goal. His fight card for the season shows 9 fights, winning 6 with a draw.
The quite limited ice time he received under coach Jacques Lemaire, along with a combination of injuries and being a healthy scratch at times, depending on the tactical matchup with certain opponents on a given night, limited his offensive chances. Still, whenever he was in the offensive zone, fans hoped to see the streak come to an end, oohing and aahing with each close call.
The 2009-10 season saw an increase of playing time for Boogaard following a coaching change in Minnesota as he worked hard to be a more complete player. He saw action in 57 games and found enough opponents willing to fight him to amass 105 penalty mintues, his highest total since 2006-07, but still the goalless streak continued. His 9 fights show another dominant season, with 7 wins and a draw.
For the 2010-11 season, Boogaard was signed by the New York Rangers to a $6.5 million four year contract. Finally on November 9, 2010, to the delight of many, especially his fans back in Minnesota, Boogaard's goalless streak came to an end after 234 games, 21 short of Ken Daneyko's NHL record, when he scored in the most unexpected way, when Tyler Sloan of the Washington Capitals missed a chance to hold the puck in the Washington zone, freeing Boogaard for a run up the ice with no one back. Skating as fast as he was capable of, he reached the top of the faceoff circle, reared back and put all his hulking frame into a powerful slapshot that blew past goalie Michael Neuvirth for his first goal in nearly five calendar years, and now sadly his third and final goal of his NHL career.
The final game of Boogaard's NHL career came on December 9, 2010 when a punch to the head by the Ottawa Senators Matt Carkner resulted in a severe concussion which ended Boogaard's season after 22 games and seven fights, of which Boogaard won 4 with one draw, bringing his career totals to 61 fights of which 41 were wins, 14 losses and 6 draws. Offensively, he played in 277 NHL games, scoring 3 goals and 13 assists for 16 points and 589 penalty minutes, 305 of which came from fighting majors.
Beyond the mere numbers of fights and all the talk of goals and lack thereof, Boogaard was a player who did his job well and the right way. He seldom took a bad penalty, and a number of the penalties he was given were a result of his massive frame inflicting damage on smaller opponents with clean hits that were whistled often due to the sound they made or effect they had.
No team seemed to be rattled more by his mere presence in the lineup than the Edmonton Oilers, who would sometimes call up tough guys from the minors when facing Minnesota and often take themselves out of position to take runs at Boogaard, contributing to Wild goaltender Niklas Backstrom's 14-0 home record versus the Oilers.
On a personal note, we had a few opportunities to meet Derek Boogaard in person and always found him friendly, accommodating, generous and a really nice guy who always had a moment for fans and autograph seekers as evidenced by the game used stick he gave us.
When off the ice and wearing his glasses, he had a studious look and demeanor that suggested a teacher more than one of the most feared men in the NHL.
On the ice he was as popular a player that the Wild have ever had and a shame to lose anyone at such a young age, as he was just 28 years old.
Today's featured jersey is a 2009-10 Minnesota Wild Derek Boogaard jersey. Such was Boogaard's popularity with the Wild fans that he was chosen to model the team's new alternate jerseys during their unveiling at the Minnesota State Fair on August 30, 2009.
Our first video today is Boogaard modeling the new Wild alternate jersey during it's official unveiling in August of 2009.
Our next video is a tribute to Boogaard doing what made him famous and feared.
Showing off his lighter side, here is Boogaard starring in a commercial for a local supplier of hockey gear.
Here is some more of Boogaard's lighter side, as he is interviewed by teammate Brent Burns.
One final moment to leave you all with, from the Wild's Prospect Camp while still a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers, Boogard breaks the glass like no one else has ever done.