Hundreds of Minnesota Wild fans showed up at Xcel Energy Center on Sunday night to remember the life of Derek Boogaard, the former Wild forward who tragically passed away on Friday.
He was beloved by Wild fans during the five years he played there as a tough fan favorite -- t he underdog who couldn't really score goals, but would play his role as an enforcer to the best of his ability each and every night. He was, pound-for-pound, one of the toughest players in the NHL -- if not the toughest.
But just to understand how beloved Boogaard really was in Minnesota, you'd have to look no further than the memorial ceremony on Sunday. It wasn't set up by the Wild or the family or the building or even his old teammates. Two fans, not even of legal drinking age, set it up using Facebook. An impromptu memorial.
This was all the brainchild of 19-year-old Katie Haag of St. Francis and 18-year-old Shelby Leske of Hutchinson.
This started with a simple Facebook "event" the night Boogaard died. They didn't have permission. They didn't ask if the building was available. They just knew in their heart what they had to do, and they did it.
It grew and grew. I was even a little squeamish about whether or not I was supposed to promote it. After all, the Wild wasn't putting it on and the family didn't know about it and they were mourning.
But this morning, Ryan Boogaard texted me that the family was going, and I instantly got it up on our site.
If that's not the definition of a love affair between a player and a fan base, I don't know what is. For more on the memorial and the life of Derek Boogaard, head over to Hockey Wilderness. Bryan Reynolds of HW shared some photos of the memorial.