Saturday, May 21, 2011

Derek Boogaard Buried Today in Home-Town in Saskatchewan

A somber walk from the chapel in Regina, Saskatchewan this afternoon as hundreds attended the private funeral for the Saskatchewan-born Boogaard. A good summary of the service is here.

Jesse Spector at the Daily News attended and had this to report:

About 40 members of the Rangers organization were in attendance today, led by MSG Sports president and Rangers alternate governor Scott O’Neil, as well as Glen Sather, the full training staff and nearly all of the players.

John Tortorella, recovering from knee replacement surgery earlier this month, is not yet able to travel.

Brendan Shanahan, now a vice president in the league office, flew to Regina with the Rangers contingent, and the NHLPA was represented by executive director Donald Fehr along with Jim McKenzie, a tough customer in his own right during his playing days.

While many of Boogaard’s former Wild teammates also paid their respects, it was of particular note that Jody Shelley made the trip from Philadelphia, such was his respect for a fellow combatant. Boogaard and Shelley fought six times over the years, most recently in November in Philadelphia.

Family leads the attendees out of the chapel.
It was Krysten's graduation day today at the University of Kansas.

Anecdote from Jacques Lemaire, former coach of the Minnesota Wild: I told him you have to work on your skills and take no bad penalties,” Lemaire said.

“One game Derek took a bad penalty early, and the next day he walked in and gave me a check for $10,000. He told me, ‘If I ever take a bad penalty again, cash this.’ I never had to, and I wound up tearing it in half after a few weeks. But I posted it on my bulletin board to show people how serious he was about trying.”

Sean Avery, Marian Gaborik, Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan pictured here.

---The Graying Mantis

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Who will stand up for Boogey?

Now I don't want to be one to stir the pot. Especially with the wound so deep and obviously fresh with the passing of our fallen enforcer... but I'm glad this came out and kudos to Big George Laraque for putting this out there.

In an interview with serious Radio, Big George (a known gentle giant himself) put the hockey world and ranger fans on notice...

“He was cleared to play at the end of the season and the team just told him to take the rest of the year off,” Laraque told NHL HOME ICE on SiriusXM Radio. “You know how much pressure that puts on a guy? He was ready to play with the contract he had and the team says, ‘It’s OK, just take the rest of the year off.’ On top of that, he told me his coach was not a big fan of him.

“I don’t want to insinuate anything that happened and the cause (of his death) or whatever but I would have been frustrated if I was in that situation. The fact he was inactive so long and those two incidents happened, it clearly didn’t help him.”

............He told me John didn’t really like him as a player,” Laraque said. “I don’t know what John thought or what he said.

“All I know is that Derek told me he was cleared to play, to come back, that he wanted to play and the team told him to take the rest of the year off, to get ready for next year. He didn’t tell me who told him that, he just told me the team said that.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

Having been my suspicion for a while, I have to say I am deeply disappointed in the organization, the coach and that these are decisions being made for our team. I hope this makes the direction of our organization, transparent. I'm loving the infusion of youth and watching guys develop within the organization, but watching half a team enabled to play double time while the other half containing some integral pieces, sit idle in the dog house waiting for the coach to smile upon them is BULL$HIT!!!

Now i'm not saying that Boogaard should have been activated and put on the first line, but I think we all took notice of how certain players were played regardless of what else was happening on the ice this year... how it later impacted our team. Guys like Avery rode the bench despite being one of only few fired up players for getting penalties that a guy like Dubinsky got routinely without being admonished for... a guy like Prust was played (fighting heavyweights, playing shorthanded, even strength) till he was falling apart at the seams... A scorer like Gaborik made to freewheel it on the wing with no set up pass, or big body to pave the road or screen the goalie, because everyone else on the ice went to the boards and waited for dump.

It goes without saying a guy like Boogey could have taken on some guys that Prust got mixed up with, taken some opposing players out of the play and did some intimidating on the ice... had this game been played with some of the fervor it used to... before this became Tortorellas band of mad scramblers and half sized grinders. Now this isn't me playing Monday morning quarterback. There were plenty of times I cheered this team and their underdog persistence... and there were some that I felt I had to for the sake of Morale. The sad fact is, I must make an admission of my own now, that I didn't really feel like this was my team, this season. There are certainly players I would call my players and others that I would still call likeable... but that is a far cry from a team. I'm sure the resemblance was there through the Tortarella looking glass. However, if you asked me to name the lines, I couldn't really ... as the mix and match went on so often that the only lines that ever stuck were those that showed instant chemistry and dug us out of a whole through one of our many comeback wins. If all the juggling and slight of hand had been taken out of the line making process... we'd see that many live guys were simply inserted to dead lines for the sake of keeping the flow of the game rolling. This is not the multifaceted gem that can epitomize an NHL team... 1st line scorers, 3rd line energy guys, 4th line grinders... It was the same group of players wearing 3 different hats a night while the other players watched and tried figure out where they fit in.
When Torts was first hired, I appreciated the no nonsense take on coaching. However its just become more apparent that if you don't fit his ideals.. then you're simply not a Ranger. You don't get invited to the party.. you're not one of the cool kids.. and you don't get automatically absolved of your mistakes. It becomes hard to fathom how a guy like Drury is revered and given automatic precedence over a guy who's physically 100% and looking for ice time... just so the Captain can hurl himself in front of another puck, break something else and dig for scraps around the net before getting flattened by another player... or how a guy like Prospal can come in disregard the game plan as if he's never heard any of the discussions in the locker room or film sessions and crash the net on his own while everyone else.. is again at the boards with their backs to center ice. Then again, its kind of easy to see when you considered that they were already in Tort's pocket from the beginning. It's unfortunate that a voice beyond the grave must highlight this disparity among players for us...

Thanks for the heads up, Boogey(special thanks to BGL)... RIP Big man... Once a Ranger Always a Ranger.

Till next time Ranger fans,

P.S. - I also found it particularly disappointing that so many fans can start talking about Boogeys cap hit and money situations instead of the type of person and inspiration he was as a human being. Here's to hoping the Rangers honor their contract to him and the money goes to where he would like it.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Minnesota Wild Fans Commemorate Derek Boogaard -- "He always will be our teddy bear"

It is almost cliche to state the obvious that a parent's loss of a child is one of the most heart-rending tragedies to confront.

"I keep expecting him to walk through the door" -- Len Boogaard, Derek's father.

In an ideal world, that type of loss does not happen, it is out of place, it breaks the natural order, it is not fair.

"I met him a couple summers ago. My brother was on a two-week leave from Iraq, and my brother and I didn't have a very good relationship at the time. We got there like four hours early, we waited in line to meet him and my brother and I got really close during that time. We were the first ones to meet him, and he was just like the nicest guy ever." -- Shelby Leske, 18, one of the organizers of the fan tribute.

But it happens and yesterday at the Xcel Energy Center, the surviving family members (Boogaard’s parents, Len and Joanne, sister, Kyrsten, and brothers, Aaron, Ryan and Curtis) unashamedly exhibited their love, shared their grief for Derek Boogaard and celebrated his life with hundreds of Minnesota Wild fans.

"Derek was dependable to a fault. You could depend on him for anything you needed. At any time, your priority became his priority." -- Krysten Boogaard, Derek's sister.

The proud father described his feelings seeing his son play in his first NHL game on opening night on October 5, 2005 --
Derek dressed up in his suit. I was so proud. I was standing at the window and watched him weave his way through the crowd. Nobody paid any attention to him. They didn't know who the heck he was. Look at how that changed.
Below -- Father and Daughter (l); Daughter and Mother (c); Father and Son (Aaron) (r).

Gentle giant, big-hearted and fan-friendly are some of the attributes that everyone has used the past couple of days. Teammates from Minnesota and the Rangers kept describing him as a teddy bear.

Yesterday, Derek's siblings picked up on that theme while fighting through tears to get their messages of love across:

His sister, Krysten, mentioned that teddy bears are a source of comfort and dependable, two of her brother's best traits. His brother Ryan continued:

Teddy bears are usually big, and while he couldn't admit it, cuddly. You wouldn't think of Derek as cuddly, but there wasn't a person in our lives that had more love to give and more love to receive. . . . Derek was a teddy bear, and always will be our teddy bear.

--- The Graying Mantis

The Star Tribune (which has done a wonderful job of reporting) has the story here and I recommend your visiting them.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Derek Boogaard | June 23, 1982 – May 13, 2011

Last night, the New York Rangers sadly announced that Derek Boogaard had died. Read the notice here. The cause of death has not been disclosed, pending autopsy results.

Derek did not have a chance to become as well known or popular to Ranger fans as he was with the Minnesota Wild. For a wonderful tribute, please read this and this from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis. He was beloved in Minnesota. Even NPR (a/k/a Minnesota Public Radio) had a tribute for him this morning.

After signing a 4 year contract in the offseason, he only appeared in 22 games and missed the final 52 games because of a concussion and shoulder injury. He began his NHL career with the Wild and averaged about 42 games/season over during 2005 through 2010.

With the Rangers, he became actively involved in the behind the scenes charity work. He created “Boogaard’s Booguardians,” hosting military members and their families at all New York Ranger home games. In addition, he made multiple appearances with partner organizations of the Garden of Dreams Foundation.

During the season, he scored a goal (beating the Caps' Michal Neuvirth and breaking his personal scoreless streak of 234 games) that made You Tube highlights and even made light of it during a Garden Of Dreams commercial when at one point a kid said to him, "I saw you score a goal." Boogie's quick reaction was, "no, that wasn't me!"

He also picked 94 as his jersey as a tribute to the Stanley Cup winning team. One poster reported sitting with him and some of his friends last October at a Yankees game. After hearing how happy Ranger fans were to have an enforcer, Derek's friends mentioned that he was in the best shape of his life, including losing 60 pounds during the offseason, taking seriously the importance to be in top condition to play for Tortorella's Rangers.

I think Ranger fans lost a good guy without getting a chance to know him. And the Minnesota fans lost one of their favorites.

It's a sad day for the Rangers and Wild families. It's appropriate it is a gray day here in NYC.

--- The Graying Mantis

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