Vancouver Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo makes a save off of Minnesota Wild Derek Boogaard's shot in this 2005 file photo. Boogaard, who joined the New York Rangers for the 2010-11 season, was found dead in his apartment Friday morning. He was 28.
Photograph by: Les Bazso, PNG files
MINNEAPOLIS — It will likely be weeks before medical authorities are able to fully determine what caused the death of NHLer Derek Boogaard.
The 28-year-old Saskatoon native was found dead inside his apartment in Minneapolis by family members on Friday night, shortly after 6 p.m.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that an autopsy was conducted Saturday. Medical personnel indicated that foul play was not initially suspected, although the Minneapolis homicide unit is investigating.
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported on Saturday that the New York Rangers forward had spent the last week in Los Angeles with his brother Aaron, a minor-league player. On Thursday, Boogaard had contacted the Star Tribune via text saying he had met with a public relations firm and was set to start a Twitter account.
Boogaard spent the first five years of his career with the Minnesota Wild before signing a free-agent deal with the Rangers last summer.
Reaction continued to pour in on Saturday in wake of the news.
"He's partially the reason I'm in the NHL," Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton said to the Boston Herald.
"There's a lot of guys do this job," said Thornton, who fought Boogaard earlier this season on Oct. 23. "He was definitely at the top of the list of guys you really didn't want to run into. If you had to, you had to. That's our job. But he had the potential to hurt you."
Boston defenceman Shane Hnidy was a teammate of Boogaard's in Minnesota in 2009-10.
"Everybody just saw the big, tough exterior," Hnidy said. "But he was a great guy who really gave back. Especially in Minny, he was probably the most popular player there. He gave back. He was always there."
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman on Saturday released a statement on Boogaard's passing.
"The news that we have lost someone so young and so strong leaves everyone in the National Hockey League stunned and saddened. The NHL family sends its deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Derek Boogaard, to those who played and worked with him and to everyone who enjoyed watching him compete."
The six-foot-seven, 260-pounder played in only 22 games with the Rangers this past season after suffering a shoulder injury and concussion.
In 277 career games, Boogaard recorded three goals, 13 assists and 589 penalty minutes.
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