May 21, 2011, 8:17 PM EDT
Family, friends, teammates and many members of the hockey community attended Derek Boogaard’s funeral in Regina, Saskatchewan on Saturday. Judging by the reactions from just about anyone who interacted with “The Boogey Man,” it seems like he was a fearsome enforcer on the ice and a teddy bear off it.
Boogaard was found dead in his Minnesota apartment on May 13 from an accidentally toxic mixture of alcohol and the pain killer oxycodone. He was only 28 years old.
The Canadian Press reports that hundreds gathered for the funeral on Saturday, including many people associated with the sport. Included in that group were people associated with his most recent team, the New York Rangers (such as Sean Avery and GM Glen Sather) and the team he spent most of his NHL career with, the Minnesota Wild (defenseman Brent Burns and former GM Doug Risebrough were among the people associated with the team who made it to his funeral). Jordan Eberle and Brendan Shanahan also attended the funeral, among others.
Here’s what Risebrough said about Boogaard.
“Derek had a way of attracting people. He had a way of comforting people. A big man with a soft heart,” said Risebrough. “On the ice, players were trying to get away from him. Off the ice, the people were trying to be around him.”
Boogaard’s funeral allowed many an opportunity to find closure regarding the enforcer’s untimely death, while Wild fans provided their own informal memorial last weekend. Boogaard’s longtime friend Jeremy Clark probably said it best when he described the impact Boogaard made on those around him.
“For some of you, he was the protector. For others, he was the big goof with that infectious grin ready to victimize you with a prank or a trick word,” said Clark.
“Some saw the quiet giant, the thoughtful friend. Others saw the gracious guy that was ready to pick up the tab for complete strangers at a restaurant. I think for all of those we can agree — he was a giant with a giant heart who leaves behind a giant hole.”
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