DEREK VAN DIEST
REGINA — Doris Sullivan drove from Medicine Hat to Regina to pay her final respects to Derek Boogaard.
To her, Boogaard was like another son, having billeted the late New York Rangers forward during his time with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“We treated him like family when he was with us,” said Sullivan. “We loved Derek, that’s all there is to it. He was great, I have some very good, genuine memories of him.”
Boogaard died just over a week ago in Minneapolis. A Minnesota medical examiner ruled the 28-year-old’s death was accidental, caused by a mixture of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.
On Saturday a funeral service was held for Boogaard attended by a number of NHL executives and players.
“That doesn’t change the way I feel about him,” Sullivan said. “We never had any problems with him. We just thought he was wonderful. I was shocked, totally shocked when I first heard he had died.”
Boogaard spent parts of two seasons with the Tigers heading to Medicine Hat in a trade with the Prince George Cougars.
He moved on to play in the ECHL with the Louisiana IceGators and then spent two years with the Houston Aeros before graduating to the NHL with the Wild.
In 277 NHL games, Boogaard scored three goals, added 13 assists and had 589 penalty minutes.
“I told (Boogaard’s mother) Joanne that I wanted to go and visit her sometime in the future and talk to her about all the memories I have of Derek,” Sullivan said. “They are good memories and a mother would be pleased to know them. I told her she would be so proud of Derek and she said she was. She rightfully should be.”