Boogaard passed away just over a week ago in Minneapolis at the age of 28. A Minnesota medical examiner ruled his death was accidental caused by a mixture of alcohol and the pain-killer oxycodone.
On Saturday, family, friends and teammates travelled to Regina to pay their final respects. Among those in attendance were former Minnesota Wild general manager Doug Risebrough, current New York Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather and a host of players.
Risebrough and Wild forward Brent Burns spoke during the service, as did friend and agent Tobin Wright and boxing trainer Jeremy Clark, who became close to Boogaard during his time in Minnesota.
Aaron Boogaard, Derek’s younger brother, and sister Krysten spoke on behalf of the family.
All of them, had a common theme, how Boogaard could be intimidating on the ice, but was a gentle, caring individual off it.
“He was just a real, genuine, big-hearted Teddy Bear,” said Sillinger, echoing the sentiment expressed by Krysten Boogaard. “He would take the shirt off his back for you. He was just a mellow, laid back person. Whatever you were doing, he would agree with. It’s one of those things where all the tough guys in the league have that mentality.
“They’re very soft-spoken, but when it comes time to do business, they take care of it.”
Boogaard spent six seasons in the NHL, five with the Wild before moving on to play with the Rangers last year.
Due to a concussion, he was limited to just 22 games with New York.
In his speech Saturday, Risebrough talked of drafting Boogaard and the work he put in to make it to the NHL.
“Derek will be missed,” Risebrough said. “But he will always be remembered.”
Clark met Boogaard in Minnesota, when the Saskatchewan native walked into his gym.
Despite making it a rule to keep a distance from clients, Clark talked about having no choice but becoming good friends with Boogaard.
“He had been looking for a boxing gym in Minnesota,” said Clark. “This summer would have been the fourth summer we would have worked out together. He loved it. He started at the gym twice a week, then all of a sudden, it was five days a week and he would start coming in the evenings to hang out when I had classes on. By the end of that first year we became close.”
Boogaard is survived by parents Len and Joanne, brothers Ryan, Aaron, half-brother Curtis and sister Krysten.
“I deal with a ton of NHL guys, I deal with a lot of guys that want to fight, but I’m not close to any of them because I’m a trainer,” Clark said. “But I had no choice with Derek. We became close friends without really intending to.”