Last night, Derek Boogaard, a forward for the NY Rangers, was found dead at the age of 28. The 2010-11 season was his first with the Rangers, and he got a concussion on December 9 which kept him out for the rest of the season, but during those 20 or so games that he played, he gathered a cult following among fans. He was one of the best bruisers in the league, but off the ice he was extremely approachable and involved in charitable causes. He created “Boogaard’s Booguardians” to host military personnel and their families at every Rangers home game and participated in many Garden of Dreams events. We were all looking forward to having him back next year, players and fans alike. But that will never happen now. Cause of death hasn’t been determined, but it doesn’t look like foul play. Some people are saying suicide, but I really hope they’re wrong. It’s tragic enough without him taking his own life.
This makes me think back to when Cardinals pitcher Darryl Kile passed away in his hotel room in 2002 due to heart problems at the age of 33. My family and I used to go to batting practice before the games a few times a year hoping to get signatures. He was the only one I ever got. I know it seems odd to people who aren’t into sports, but when you watch and root for the same group of people for months on end, you feel like you start to know them; this is especially true with hockey, where there are more player interviews and just more personal info in general. So when one of them dies, while you know that you’re not grieving as much as the family and friends who really knew that person are, you’re grieving at least a little all the same 😦