People normally associate Gate 1 at Xcel Energy Center with good feelings. Typically, they’re about to experience a fun night at a Wild game, or a WCHA Final Five game or a concert or any other event. Sure, there are times when people leave disappointed after a loss by their favorite team, but those feelings dissipate rather quickly.
For the 350 people that attended a tribute to Derek Boogaard on Sunday, the feelings won’t disappear for awhile. It will be hard to erase the memory of watching his family members embrace each other as the tears flowed. It will be hard to forget how sad a person like Brent Burns looked. This is the guy who never seems to have an off switch on his “fun motor.” And it was eerie to walk into Gate 1, see a horde of people, and be able to hear a pin drop.
The night featured several speakers including: Chuck Fletcher, Wes Walz and members of Derek’s family. Obviously, watching his brothers and sister speak was enough to make the tears flow.
Several folks were available for comment after the program, but I for one did not feel comfortable asking anyone to speak about this tragedy at this point. However, Wild.com will have video footage from the event posted tomorrow (Monday) so check that out if you were unable to attend on Sunday.
I will say how offended I was to see some speculation about Boogaard’s passing in some stories. There is a time and a place for that, and that’s when autopsy reports are revealed. Naturally, we are all curious, but now is the time to remember the joy that the Boogeyman brought to people’s lives and that is the spirit that the people who attended today’s events brought to the memorial.
There is nothing that can dissuade people that knew him from knowing that Derek Boogaard was a good person, unless he was punching you in the face during a hockey game. And it sounds like the guys he beat up seemed to realize that he wasn’t wishing them harm.
Boogaard wasn’t a member of the Wild when he died. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be an empty feeling around here tomorrow, and at training camp and on Opening Night, and maybe when a guy like Brad Staubitz tangles with an opponent.
Boogaard was adored here. He was the rare athlete that could leave as a free agent and still be beloved by the fans of his former team. Only certain players get those free passes, and those are the ones that bust their butts for their team, show courage on the ice and reveal that they are genuinely caring people away from the arena.
I can’t think of any other way to wrap this up. I can only speak for myself when I say Derek was so good to me whenever I dealt with him. I’m willing to bet I’ll go my whole life, and not hear anyone tell me different.
So long, Boogeyman.