"His father was the RCMP in Herbert. It's not easy for the RCMP to live in a small community where everybody knows everybody else. When an RCMP gives a ticket to someone, the family sometimes has to deal with it."
On Saturday, family, friends and teammates will gather in Regina to pay final respects to Boogaard, who passed away last Friday at the age of 28. A medical examiner in Minnesota ruled the death accidental, due to a mixture of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.
The six-foot-seven, 265-pound Saskatchewan native was remembered as a big man with an even bigger heart.
"He had difficulty in school. Some kids just do," Toews said. "As a result, I would do special things with him. He came to my place one summer and I tutored him. I sometimes I took him out to the farm with me. Derek needed something else besides just being in town. He needed self-esteem, and I felt that the few things we did together helped him. I think he really enjoyed those trips out to the farm."
Born in Saskatoon, Boogaard spent his early years in Herbert, before moving to Melfort, Sask., where he went on to play Bantam AA hockey.
It was there that Floyd Halcro helped reignite Boogaard's passion for the game that he had become disillusioned with.
"Derek had quit hockey the year before he came to play for me," Halcro said. "He was playing Bantam A and for various reasons he quit. I was coaching the AA team and had a tryout camp, and his mom and dad and Derek came to camp and asked if he could try out. I told them he could and took him on the team.
"Derek was the type of kid that if you could coach him, and he liked you, he would bend over backwards to do the right thing.
"Initially we had a couple of issues with penalties and those things, but in those days, I would say over half of the penalties that were assessed against him, he got because he was six-foot-five at the time. Some little guy would take a run at him and run into his elbow and he would get a penalty."
In Melfort, Boogaard moved on to play Junior B hockey and caught the eye of Regina Pats head scout Todd Ripplinger, who eventually brought him to the Western Hockey League and was credited for nicknaming him "The Boogeyman."
"The night we listed him, myself, and the Pats general manager at the time Brent Parker, went to see him play in Melfort," Ripplinger said. "It was a gong show -- he was out there trying to fight everybody, trying to get into the other team's bench. He was 15 years old at the time.
"It was funny — the referees couldn't control him and all of a sudden we saw this RCMP officer come out on the ice and we thought, 'Oh my goodness, somebody called the cops.' The RCMP guy grabbed him by the back of the jersey and pulled him across the ice, and we ended up finding out it was his father, Len.
"Len is a very nice, humble man, but he knew when his son was stepping over the line. I guess, wearing an RCMP uniform allows a guy to walk on the ice. That was the first time we saw Derek and then he came to our training camp and he tried to fight everybody there. You could tell that's what he wanted to do, he wanted to make a living of it, and he did."
Boogaard played six seasons in the NHL, five of them with the Minnesota Wild before signing with the New York Rangers.
On his way up the ladder, he spent a year with Louisiana IceGators of the ECHL under Dave Farrish, who is now an assistant with the Anaheim Ducks.
"He had started the year in junior and he really didn't want to go to the East Coast league, he thought that might be a step down," Farrish said. "I convinced him a little bit that coming to the East Coast league would be better for him to play against men instead of kids.
"He was really raw. He came in as a big, strong guy who had pretty decent hockey sense and abilities, but he was almost too big for his body. He had to work hard, but credit to him, he put the work in. He wasn't afraid to do the work. He wasn't a lazy kid, he was so eager to learn.
"He was so much bigger than everybody else, he would run over people by accident and be sorry about it. Then he began to understand his role and then he would run over them intentionally. He was a big, strong but very quiet and soft-spoken individual. He was a real, nice fellow."
Boogaard worked on all aspects of his game and moved on to play with the Houston Aeros of the American Hockey League before eventually cracking the Wild's roster.
In the off-season he would return to Regina to train with Frank Fiacco, who runs the Lonsdale Boxing Club in the city.
"Derek worked out hard," Fiacco said. "We had different individuals work out at the gym. There would be a lot of younger guys at the gym and some of the drills that we did, he could have easily out-powered a lot of guys, but he didn't. He made sure everybody was comfortable doing stuff. He was a big boy, with a lot of power and never did he try to impose that on anybody. He just trained normally with everybody."
Boogaard's reputation off the ice was that of a gentle giant. It was one of the reasons he was a fan favourite in Minnesota, where his jersey was among the team's top sellers.
Due to a concussion, Boogaard was limited to just 22 games with the Rangers last season.
"I remember my stepdaughter was at the gym one night, she was about six at the time," Fiacco said. "I introduced her to Derek and she turned around and looked straight up at him. What does he do? He comes right down to her size to say hi instead of just standing there to say hi. That's huge, that's the type of person he was. He brought himself to everybody's level, because he knew that he was so big."
Had he not played professional hockey, Fiacco figures Boogaard could have been an excellent boxer.
Boogaard also worked out with Jeremy Clark in Minnesota where the two developed a deep friendship. Clark will deliver the eulogy on Saturday.
"For as big as every part of his body was, his heart was that times 1,000," Clark said. "He just cared about everything, loved everything and always wanted to help. All he did was care about people. He became a family member to us."
Boogaard is survived by his parents Len and Joanne, brothers Ryan and Aaron, and sister Krysten. His funeral will take place at the RCMP Depot.
"He'll be missed," said Ripplinger. "Off ice, it was unbelievable how good he was with the kids and in the community. I remember one summer he was playing street hockey with the kids at a charity event. They gave him a jersey that was extra large and it looked like a muscle shirt on him. He was out there playing in his flip-flops and the kids were whacking at him and hitting his feet. The kids were not even coming up to his waist and he was loving it, and had a big smile on his face."