Minnesota Wild Fifteen Greatest Players: #3 Derek Boogaard


Making the list at number three is a player whose impact on the Minnesota Wild on the scoresheet was not even close to impressive.  But his effort heart and personal sacrifice to the Wild is unmeasurable and unmatched.

Former Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard makes the list at the high and distinguished spot of 3rd.  That might seem high for a player that only had three career NHL goals in six seasons, but Boogaaurd’s role wasn’t to score goals but to standup for his teammates using his mammoth size.  The reason one would have to rank Boogaard so high a list of greatest Wild players, is the effect he has had on the franchise even six years after leaving Minnesota.

From a young age Boogaard knew he needed to use his strength and flight if he was going to make it to the NHL.  He started his NHL journey in the WHL playing for the Regina Pats, who decided to sign him after a scout saw him jump into the bench to fight the opposing team in a game with his hometown team.  In the WHL he would bounce between a few teams as he was looking to grow into his frame and mature his fighting skills.

The Wild came calling in the 2001 Draft as they used the 202nd to select Boogaard.  After one and half more seasons in the WHL, the Wild sent him to the ECHL to the Louisiana IceGators to continue his maturation as an enforcer.

Many in the organization did not see him being able to make it to the NHL.  But Boogaard’s rigorous routine of skating lessons, boxing lessons, and good old fashion working out was enough to get him to the AHL, where he gained his famous nickname the Boogeyman, and eventually on to the NHL for the 2005-06 season.

Wild Head Coach Jacques Lemaire knew right from the start of training camp that Boogaard’s ability to intimidate the other team was a huge asset for his team.  What made Boogaard such an intimidating force was his god given physical stature that saw him tower over opponents with his 6 foot 7-inch frame.  With 270 pounds on that frame he had a crippling amount of force behind every punch he threw.

From that first season in 2005-06 to his last season with the Wild in 2009-10, the Boogeyman was feared by almost every player in the NHL.  That includes the all the other enforcers.  Boogaard didn’t just beat players in a fight, he’d could inflict serious injury.  A great example of that is when Boogaard broke the cheekbone of Todd Fedoruk that required a repair of in the form of a metal plate.  Georges Laraque a very intimidating player in his own right was heard saying that part of the reason he wanted to retire when he did was that he didn’t want to be a victim of the punishment Boogaard was dealing out.

After the 2009-10 season the Wild were unable to match the monster deal that the Rangers threw at Boogaard, so he signed with New York for four-years and $6.5 million.  His time in New York would be short-lived as he suffered season ending concusion in a fight with Matt Carkner of Ottawa after only 22 games.

More from History

While recovering from that concussion Boogaard suffered an overdose reaction of alcohol mixed his pain killers while stopping through Minneapolis on a vacation.  The Minneapolis firefighters who found him pronounced him dead at the scene just ten days short of his 29th birthday.  What was exposed by his death was that Boogaard had become hopelessly addicted to painkillers and it ultimately cost him his life.

Boogaard’s effect on the Wild record books is what you would expect. He’s nowhere near the top in any offensive category, and is second in penalty minutes with 544.  Still his effect on the Minnesota fans transcends all numbers.  Today his jersey is still one of the most popular ones being worn around the Xcel Center, and he remains hands down the toughest player to wear a Wild uniform.  He single-handedly made players scared to play the Wild in the late 2000s.

Next: Jason Pominville Will Succeed Next Season

The fans will never forget him and his former opponents will never forget him as well.  They all probably have a lasting reminder that they met and tangled with him.  Still what really makes Boogaard great is not that he fought so well, it’s that he did whatever it took to help his team.  He did it even if it caused him the immense amount of pain that eventually would cost him his life.  So it’s fair to say Derek Boogaard gave his life to his team and to the Minnesota Wild.