In honor of his late son, Derek Boogaard’s father, Len, and his wife, Jody Vail, purchased four Ottawa Senators season tickets and donated them to four military bases in Ottawa.
Each game (44 in all) during a TV timeout, four soldiers that have returned from deployment are honored. During the preseason, it was never announced that the tickets were actually coming from the Boogaards, so if you're an Ottawa fan coming to the games, from now on, you do.
“Derek really got heavily involved in helping the military, and he had talked to me about once he was done playing hockey wanting to participate in the military,” said Len Boogaard, a Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer based in Ottawa. “It seemed to give him a real sense of purpose. I hadn’t seen him get so excited about something until he got involved with the military and National Guard with Burnzie [Brent Burns] and Shane Hudella [of Defending the Blue Line].”
Len Boogaard is still painfully grieving the loss of his son. He hasn’t worked since Derek died May 13 of a toxic mix of painkillers and alcohol. He said this is another way to preserve his son’s memory.
“In light of how people are harping how he died, it’s a special way to show people there was more to Derek than that,” Len Boogaard said.
Ryan Boogaard, an RCMP officer based in northern Saskatchewan, said, doing this in Derek's memory is something that has really excited his father.
"My dad loves the military and while we were growing up, he always watched military movies, documentaries, read military type novels and took us to the air force base in Moose Jaw to see the annual air shows when we were kids. He is a hard guy to buy for when it came to Christmas, birthday's and Father's Day, but I could never go wrong if I bought him something with the military in it, for example a DVD box set.
"After Derek's passing, Shane Hudella and one of Derek's friends drove to Regina for the service. He gave our family an American flag that was in a glass case with an inscription that it had been flown in the recent Iraqi war and it was dedicated to Derek. ... There was no doubt that my dad was going to be taking it back with him and he is very proud of it."
Ryan's been thinking about the Wild and his brother a lot the last few days because of memories of the 2009 equipment fire in Ottawa.
"It was my last Christmas I had with Derek," said Ryan. "[My girlfriend] Lisa and I had made plans to go to my dads that Christmas because Derek was playing in both Ottawa and Montreal. My dad made arrangements for a big Christmas dinner.
"I remember sitting on the couch that afternoon with Derek watching sports highlights when they announced that the Wild equipment truck had caught on fire. I looked at Derek expecting him to know about it and wondering why he did not say anything, but he looked at me as he did not have the slightest clue what was going on. Sure enough, he got a text from someone saying "meeting, 6 sharp" then he called to find out what happened. It was actually pretty funny, I always get a kick out of when the media finds out about something before the players do.
"My dad took him back to the hotel and after the meeting, my dad brought him back to the house for dinner. My Oma, Opa, aunt, uncle and cousin all came over for the big turkey dinner. It was a good day."