New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead Friday in his Minneapolis apartment. He was 28.
The team announced Boogaard’s death on Friday night, but gave no details.
The Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis first reported Boogaard was found dead in his home by members of his family. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office in Minnesota confirmed those details and said an autopsy was pending.
“Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual,” Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said. “He was a very thoughtful person, who will be dearly missed by all those who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates during this difficult time.”
Boogaard signed a four-year, $6.5 million deal with Rangers in July and appeared in 22 games with them last season. He had a goal and an assist to go with 45 penalty minutes.
One of the most feared fighters in the league, Boogaard missed the last 52 games of the regular season with a concussion and shoulder injury and did not play in the playoffs.
“The NHLPA is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Derek Boogaard,” NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr said in a statement. “Derek was a well-liked and respected member of the NHLPA, and his passing is a great loss to the entire hockey community. Our sincere condolences to Derek’s many friends and family during this difficult time.”
Boogaard began his NHL career with Minnesota and appeared in 255 games with the Wild from 2005-10.
“The Minnesota Wild organization sends our deepest sympathies to the family of Derek Boogaard,” team said in a statement. “Derek was a fan favorite during his five seasons with the Wild and will be greatly missed here in Minnesota and throughout the NHL. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boogaard family during this tragic time of loss.”
In 277 regular-season games with Minnesota and the Rangers over six seasons, he had three goals and 13 assists and 589 penalty minutes.
The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, native was Minnesota’s seventh-round choice, 202nd overall, in the 2001 draft.
It is the second death of a player in the Rangers organization in the past three years. Alexei Cherepanov, chosen by New York with the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft, died in Chekhov, Russia, on Oct. 13, 2008, after collapsing on the bench during a KHL game while playing with Avangard Omsk. The 19-year-old Cherepanov didn’t sign with the Rangers and never played in the NHL.
Roman Lyashenko, who briefly played with the Rangers several years ago, was found dead in a hotel room in Turkey while on vacation in 2003. His death was believed to be a suicide.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.