Derek Boogaard played the tough guy role on the ice, but his role wasn't what defined him. As an enforcer, Boogaard was charged with doing the dirty work, laying massive hits and standing up for teammates with his fists. But following his untimely passing -- Boogaard was found dead in his apartment on Friday at age 28 -- fans are remembering his softer side, which stands in stark contrast to the image he portrayed on the ice.
It was in Minnesota where fans embraced Boogaard, both for the role he took-on with the Wild and the work he did off the ice. The enforcer role ended as the final horn sounded and Boogaard had a soft heart for the troops and children. His charitable work was well-known in Minnesota, and Boogaard made it a point to work directly with military-centered organizations in each city he played in.
Boogaard took an active role in community endeavors with the two teams he played for in his career, particularly with regard to the military. He supported the Defending the Blue Line Foundation, which is a non-profit charitable foundation that aims to help children of military members play hockey. He created "Boogaard's Booguardians" with the Rangers, hosting military members and their families at Madison Square Garden for all Rangers home games. He also worked with the Garden of Dreams Foundation.
Boogaard was a Defending the Blue Line All-Star MVP, an honor bestowed upon the highest-level donors. While in Minnesota, he gave his time and money to the charity in an effort to bring the game of hockey to the children of those serving in the military.
The NHL didn't just lose an enforcer: It lost an ambassador and fan favorite. Boogaard's passing at such a young age is unfair and has many fans, in Minnesota, New York and throughout the NHL, wondering why.
A cause of death has yet to be determined and an autopsy is pending. The New York Rangers confirmed his passing, but few details are known.