NEW YORK, N.Y. - New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard was found dead Friday in his Minneapolis apartment. He was 28.
The team announced Boogaard's death on Friday night, but gave no details.
The Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis first reported Boogaard was found dead in his home by family members. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office in Minnesota confirmed those details and said an autopsy was pending.
"Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said in a release. "He was a very thoughtful person, who will be dearly missed by all those who knew him. We extend our deepest sympathies to his family, friends and teammates during this difficult time."
Taken 202nd overall in the 2001 entry draft by the Minnesota Wild, Boogaard appeared in 255 career games with the team from 2005-10.
"The Minnesota Wild organization sends our deepest sympathies to the family of Derek Boogaard," the Wild said in a statement. "Derek was a fan favourite during his five seasons with the Wild and will be greatly missed here in Minnesota and throughout the NHL. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boogaard family during this tragic time of loss."
One of the most feared heavyweights in the league, the Saskatoon native signed a four-year, US$6.5 million deal with the Rangers in July.
"The NHLPA is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Derek Boogaard," NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr said in a statement. "Derek was a well-liked and respected member of the NHLPA, and his passing is a great loss to the entire hockey community. Our sincere condolences to Derek's many friends and family during this difficult time."
Boogaard had a goal and an assist to go with 45 penalty minutes in 2010-11, but missed the last 52 games of the regular season with a concussion and shoulder injury. He did not play in the playoffs.
In 277 career games, the six-foot-seven, 265-pound Boogaard recorded three goals and 13 assists to go along with 589 penalty minutes.
News of Boogaard's death spread quickly Friday, with Edmonton Oilers defenceman Ryan Whitney tweeting: "Awful news about Derek Boogaard. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family."
It is the second death of a player in the Rangers organization in the past three years. Alexei Cherepanov, chosen by New York with the 17th overall pick in the 2007 draft, died in Chekhov, Russia, on Oct. 13, 2008, after collapsing on the bench during a KHL game while playing with Avangard Omsk. The 19-year-old Cherepanov didn't sign with the Rangers and never played in the NHL.
Roman Lyashenko, who briefly played with the Rangers, was found dead in a hotel room in Turkey while on vacation in 2003. His death was believed to be a suicide.