Friday, May 13, 2011

Rest in peace, Derek Boogaard

I didn't want to break the blog silence like this (I'm buried beyond recognition in schoolwork for the last 3 weeks of my formal academic career), but news just came across the wires that New York Rangers heavyweight enforcer (and former Minnesota Wild) Derek Boogaard was found dead in his apartment tonight.

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I've become increasingly ambivalent about fighting in hockey - especially in light of the emerging knowledge about Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.  (And I can only pray that he did not fall prey to CTE like the late former Chicago Bear defensive back, Dave Duerson. UPDATE: Boogaard's family has donated his brain to the Boston University center that is studying CTE.)  More and more, the Boogeyman stood out to me as an icon of a soon-bygone day where monsters roamed the ice and practiced a form of frontier justice that just is not allowed in today's National Hockey League.  He inspired fear and awe just by his presence.

In the bigger picture, hockey fighting has been reduced to a circus sideshow.  Not surprisingly, devastating physical play has wreaked havoc on NHL rosters as cheap-shotters like Matt Cooke know that they won't have to defend their actions with the likes of a 6'7", 270-pound Boogaard.  Something has to change lest hockey lose more stars like Sidney Crosby to unnecessary injuries, not to mention injuries inflicted upon the many other hard-working players who have not shone as brightly in the media lights.

But that's the political side of hockey, something we can't avoid discussing but also need to keep in perspective considering the human tragedy.  Therefore, I'm going to close this out with a tribute to Boogaard in the best manner I know: Offering what now will be known as his last fight against a Columbus Blue Jacket - a January 2010 tussle with the CBJ's Jared Boll.

(Poor Boll...never should have picked that fight...he was fighting way out of his league...)

My sincerest condolences to Boogaard's family and friends.

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