"Boogey was the only guy not skilled there," Gaborik said, grinning.
"Seriously, you should have seen these guys skating around," Boogaard said. "Imagine all those players, and then me? Before I went on the ice during introductions, they showed my hits and knockouts on the big screen. The buildings were just dead silent.
"Pav said, 'They've never seen anything like that.' Every time I went on the ice, you could hear the crowd pick up, like I was going hit somebody or fight somebody."
And of course, there was the series of fight camps put on by the Boogaard brothers. Three times, more than a dozen children between the ages of 12 and 18 were taken under the tutelage of two of the sport's toughest combatants.
Of course, Derek Boogaard took a lot of flak and even went on CNN and Fox News to defend himself.
"It's fine," Boogaard said. "It was probably 70 percent people for it, 30 percent people against it. Any publicity is good publicity."
Asked if he had a problem with the Derek & Aaron Boogaard Fighting Camp, Wild GM Doug Risebrough said, laughing: "No, because I know the kid, and would you go to Derek Boogaard power skating school? He's trying to do something good for Regina, and the kids were having fun. And Boogey's great with kids. When we do these public events, he might be the No. 1 guy because he's big and he gets them up on his shoulder and he's a soft, cuddly guy and kids are hanging on him. He's a likable guy.
"I guess, if I was guiding him, I would have said, 'Make another choice of the name of your camp.' But his intentions were all good. His heart was all good."
Pride and concern
For years, mom Joanne has had to deal with the tension of watching Derek fight professionally. It can be stressful, like last season when Derek sprained his ankle during a fight with Georges Laraque and sustained a concussion during a fight with Eric Godard.
It can also be stressful when Derek's the victor. His classic fight last October with Todd Fedoruk was one for the ages. Fedoruk chased Boogaard up the ice and paid for it. Boogaard set up with his left hand, then nailed Fedoruk with a mammoth right uppercut that shattered the fighter's left cheek.
"I mean, I'm glad it wasn't Derek laying there, but that was a hard one to swallow," Joanne said. "I felt bad for [Fedoruk]. I feel sorry for the moms watching that.
"I feel bad for what people might think about Derek because on the flip side, he's a big teddy bear."
Michael Russo firstname.lastname@example.org