I just got off the phone with Ryan Boogaard, Derek's middle brother.
Twenty minutes ago, Derek Boogaard's mother and father, Joanne and Len, signed papers to donate their oldest son's brain to the Boston University researchers who are studying for brain disease in athletes.
In March, it was announced that even though Bob Probert died of heart failure, Probert also had the degenerative brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. Probert was the second hockey player from the program at the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy to be diagnosed with the disease. The other was 1960s enforcer Reggie Fleming.
From an Associated Press story in March, CSTE is a collaboration between Boston University Medical School and the Sports Legacy Institute that is attempting to address what it calls the "concussion crisis" in sports. The group has been at the forefront of research into head trauma in sports.
CTE is a progressive brain disease believed to be caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, including concussions or subconcussive blows.
I want to emphasize, this does not mean Boogaard died of complications of a concussion. It's just a selfless act by the Boogaards, who believe in these researchers who are trying to raise awareness when it comes to brain trauma.
"Derek loved sports and obviously in particular hockey, so we believe Derek would have liked to assist with research on a matter that had affected him later on in his career," Ryan Boogaard said
Right now, the cause of death of Boogaard is unknown and won't be known for at least a few weeks once test results and toxicology reports are back at the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office.
Boogaard's funeral will be in Regina, Saskatchewan, although the date is not yet known.
A number of thoughts go through my mind as I think of Derek. One is the first time I met him in early 2008. I was well aware of Derek's reputation as a tough guy. He was in the locker room in dress clothes, glasses and hair combed. I thought he was an investment banker. He introduced himself to me and we had a brief conversation. I didn't want to bother him because he was busy signing autographs. This was something, I came to learn, he did a lot of.
Second, Derek would never fight someone who wasn't in his “class”. He never wanted to hurt anybody. He had too much respect for the game, and the players had total respect for him.
Lastly, I received a phone call last night at 1:00 a.m. from my son, Connor, who is a freshman in college. Connor interned for the Wild last year, and his favorite person (not just player) was Derek. You could hear in his voice just how affected he was, since he had just learned of Derek's passing. He had a lot of questions, and I had no answers.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the entire Boogaard family during this challenging time.
Derek will be missed by all of us.