- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2011

REGINA, SASKATCHEWAN (AP) - Derek Boogaard might have been “The Boogeyman” during his rough life as an NHL enforcer, but he was remembered Saturday as a gentle giant off the ice.

Rain fell as family, friends and hockey players filed into a chapel at the RCMP training academy to pay tribute to Boogaard, who was found dead on May 13 at his home in Minneapolis.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner announced on Friday that Boogaard’s death was an accident, due to a toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful pain killer oxycodone.

The 6-foot-7 Boogaard was one of the most feared fighters during his six-year NHL career with the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers.

Derek had a way of attracting people,” former Minnesota Wild general manager Doug Risebrough said. “He had a way of comforting people. A big man with a soft heart. On the ice, players were trying to get away from him. Off the ice, the people were trying to be around him.”

Boogaard’s longtime friend, Jeremy Clark, told mourners during the funeral that the 28-year-old player was many things to many people.

“For some of you, he was the protector. For others, he was the big goof with that infectious grin ready to victimize you with a prank or a trick word,” Clark said.

“Some saw the quiet giant, the thoughtful friend. Others saw the gracious guy that was ready to pick up the tab for complete strangers at a restaurant. I think for all of those we can agree _ he was a giant with a giant heart who leaves behind a giant hole.”

Boogaard became the league’s premier enforcers during a lengthy stint with the Wild and a short one last season with the Rangers.

He was drafted by Minnesota in 2001 in the seventh round, No. 202 overall, and went on to play in 255 games with the Wild from 2005-10. He missed four games with the Wild because of a concussion.

Boogaard signed a four-year, $6.5 million deal with the Rangers last summer, but played in only 22 games because of a concussion that ended his season. He had one goal, one assist and 45 penalty minutes with New York.

His final game was Dec. 9 at Ottawa when he fought Matt Carkner and sustained a concussion and shoulder injury _ it was the 70th fight of his NHL career.

Clark said Boogaard’s “love for life and fun overtook the size of his fists.”

“I’d never met someone who got more excitement and pleasure out of the simple things in life than Derek,” Clark said.

New York teammate Sean Avery and Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather were among those who turned out to honor Boogaard, along with Wild defenseman Brent Burns, retired winger Brendan Shanahan, and Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers.

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