I will be the first to say, I didnt know Derek Boogaard at all. I thought I did a bit, but reading articles on the 6'8 NHL enforcer today, I really wonder "who is the man that I met so many times?".
Of course, most of you reading this will already be aware of the tragic news that Derek Boogaard was discovered in his Minnesota apartment yesterday dead of still unknown causes.
Boogaard was known on the ice as a tough as nails fighter who was arguably known around the league as perhaps the toughest player in the league. The "Boogeeyman" as he was known by fans & foes was a menacing force on the ice. Few if any opponents wanted to face him in his specific role as enforcer. In his chosen role, he was extremely good. Of course, he did lack other hockey skills that made him a limited range player, but he understood what was going to keep him in the NHL & didnt try to play too much outside of his skill set.
Off the ice, the Boogaard I had seen over the years started off as a pleasant, personable enforcer (as many are actually), but had at some point become less friendly with those of us on our side of the fence. He was terrible at engaging with autograph hounds, and no better when it came to fans. In his defense, his treatment of us, the professionals, quite warranted. We did probably give him his jaded outlook about interacting with fans by continually having a multitude of items for him everytime he came here. Fact was, he was a popular commodoty in Minnesota, and we knew it. So, as time would go on, Derek started to become less receptive to any requests. However, like many who get that jaded over autographs & photos with, he took the same approach to fans as well. Everytime the Wild came to Vancouver, there was 1-2 devoted diehard Wild fans there, at least 1 or the other came every game & Boogaard treated them with the same respect as us, despite it being abundantly clear, they were not like the rest. Its THAT Boogaard that most people here remember unfortunately.
Usually, this type of attitude off the ice is a strong indicator of the type of person someone generally is. Sure, you always hear all the great things about someone after they pass away. I mean I am sure even Sean Avery would have great things said about him if he died, maybe even Gary Bettman. Fact is, unlike them, Boogaard probably is/was a good guy, we just got a bad vision of him because frankly, we probably took advantage of him some. The fact that I can actually recall him being good with fans & hounds alike is something that I cant say of others. Somewhere deep down, he was probably still "that guy", we just never got to see it.
Boogaard will be missed. Fans of the New York Rangers, who enjoy tough guy hockey players will miss him. Many Minnesota Wild fans, where he developed his game & became a popular figure for some years will miss him. His team mates & ex-team mates surely will also miss him. His fans from across the league, who appreciated the type of game he played, will miss him. Hockey as a whole, will miss him. He afterall is 1 of a now rare breed of true enforcer. His loss is truly a loss for hockey as well. He wasnt just a player, he was a character, a player with moderate name recognition, a fancy nickname & 1 of the few remaining pieces in the NHL who still played hockey the way many remember & miss, with unabashed toughness.
Reading an article by Minnesota area writer Michael Russo today on the death of Derek Boogaard titled "So Long To The Boogey-Man" http://www.startribune.com/sports/blogs/121826023.html made me doubt I really knew the Boogeyman at all. His story about the 28 year old Saskatchewan native made me honestly well up a bit, something I would have bet money someone could not make me do. Its hard to envision a softer side story to Boogaard, yet Russo managed to put one together. He talked about various charities that will also be missing Derek, about how funny he was to talk to & about how he understood what his role was & was fine with it. I really wish we got to see this Derek Boogaard more, and not the one who would walk by us stone-faced & ignorantly ignoring everyone, including some of their most die-hard fans. Now we will never get that chance.
Of course the people who will miss Derek Boogaard the most are not the fans who only know him from his on ice work, its his friends & family who knew him off the ice. His 2 brothers, sister, parents & other family have lost a part of their family today. His friends have lost a part of their daily lives.
You did not have to be a fan of Derek Boogaard to appreciate the efforts he made on the ice & off it. He will be missed by family, friends, fans & the sport as a whole. Rest in Peace Derek.
The Wild, generally a great signing team were so-so today. Lot of it had to do with several players coming out at once & a meager crowd of only 6-7 people waiting.
Some of it had to do with having 4-5 new faces on the team & 1 or 2 faces that people generally didnt have stuff for.
For me, it also didnt help that I didnt bother with befor ethe practice, still sleeping off a long night before of celebrity hounding.
NIKLAS BACKSTROM- 2 autographs. Could have infact got more perhaps, but he was rushed and I was trying to get two players at once, so I eased up & with with 2 items. He likely would have done more. Shockingly, before the game he ignored everyone on 1 side & only signed for 1 person on the opposite side. But un-Backstrom like.
JOSH HARDING- 2 autographs. It was the nicest I have seen him in a long time. Hes usually a bit elusive. Not terrible, but not the type to walk over to you & do multiple items everytime you see him. Today he did do multiple items.
BRENT BURNS- 1 autographs. Getting 1 from Burns is actually good. On average, I see him sign less than 1/2 the time. So getting 1 was better than I hoped. Requests for multiples were ignored.
GREG ZANON- 0 autographs. Happily did any items he was asked to sign.
MAREK ZIDLICKY, KIM JOHNSSON, SHANE HNIDY, NICK SCHULTZ, JAMIE SIFERS, JOHN SCOTT- Do not have a report on.
MIKKO KOIVU- 1 autograph. I missed him after practice, but before the game was there. He was a strict 1 per, but made sure he got everyone that asked him.
MARTIN HAVLAT- 3 autographs. Still willing to sign whatever is asked of him. Helped that there was such a meager crowd I'm sure.
PETR SYKORA- 0 autographs. Came out with Havlat, so he was barely asked. But the people who did ask got him on multiple items.
OWEN NOLAN- 1 autograph. Hes been consistently a 1 per for a few yrs now, still is.
JAMES SHEPPARD- 1 autograph. Learned a tip about him. He will sign 1 of each item. So if you have 3 of the same card, he'll only do one...even though he signed 9 for the person right beside him, just because they were all different.
ANDREW BRUNETTE- 0 autographs. I somehow missed him because I couldnt figure where I had hid his card when he came in. Signed for those who asked though.
DEREK BOOGAARD- 0 autographs. His hearing works, as he heard me when I said "I take that as a no?" after he ignored us for the 2nd time in the day. But clearly his vision doesnt. He managed to miss everyones sharpies & is clearly confusing the plastic beer cups on his shelf for trophies. For a guy who is a future AHL cast away he sure has quite the attitude.
ERIC BELANGER, PIERRE MARC BOUCHARD, CAL CLUTTERBUCK, BENOIT POULIOT, KYLE BRODZIAK, NATHAN SMITH, ANTTI MIETTINEN, ANDY HILBERT- Do not have a report on.
Total for Minnesota- 11 autographs.
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