"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.