Following the news of the death of Rangers forward Derek Boogaard in his Minneapolis apartment on Friday, many of his former Rangers teammates have expressed their sadness and shock over the loss of one of the league’s toughest enforcers.
"On behalf of all Derek's teammates, I would like to say that he was a great friend and a great teammate and that we are all going miss him dearly,” Rangers captain Chris Drury said in a released statement. “This is a tragic loss for the hockey community. All of our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.”
Boogaard, who served a role as an enforcer, joined the Rangers for the 2010-11 season after signing with the team on July 1, 2010. He didn’t have much of an effect with the Rangers, scoring just one goal and adding one assist in 22 games. His season was cut short on Dec. 9 after he suffered a concussion against Ottawa.
Rangers forward Brandon Prust said on twitter that he roomed with Boogaard and tweeted just after midnight that Boogaard was a great friend and a teammate and was a loss for words following the 28-year-old’s death.
“I am still in shock. It keeps hitting me off and on all day as I'm driving home. Though he was a fighter on the ice, he was definitely a gentle giant off the ice,” Prust said in a released statement. “He was just a real good guy, a team guy all the way. I've been looking at some of the silly pictures I have from when we were roommates and it just hits me what a good guy he was. I still can't believe I am referring to him in the past tense."
Rangers Right Wing Marian Gaborik, who played with Boogaard for four season in Minnesota and one year in New York, said in the statement that he was very close with Boogaard and the two helped each other out both on and off the ice. He said that Boogaard was one of the best enforcers in the league and any team would have been pleased to have him.
“He was a year younger than me, and you could see that he improved so much,” Gaborik said in a released statement. “But he was always such a calm guy, got along with everybody. We had a lot of good times together. He was a really easy going guy, really caring. We talked pretty much about everything. He’s just the type of guy who would be there for you when you needed him.
He also added in the statement: “We spoke before the World Championships. We were in touch a lot. He was focusing on coming back, training each day. He was really looking forward to coming back in great shape and prove that he’s the best at what he does. He was really looking forward to that. He was always so positive and optimistic”
Several other Rangers showed support for Boogaard's family on twitter. Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto tweeted “Boogy, you will be missed! Condolences to the Boogard family. The world lost an amazing friend and teammate!”
Backup goalie Martin Biron, who did not want to comment out of respect for Boogaard and his family when called Saturday morning, said on his twitter account: “Extremely sadden by the loss of a great teammate, Derek Boogaard, we’ll miss you. Praying for his family and friends.”