x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Fearsome on ice, Derek Boogaard was gentle off it

The New York Rangers winger, 28, made his living with his fists, and the 6ft 8ins, 260-pounder was feared and revered as an intimidating enforcer.

Derek Boogaard, renowned as one of the biggest, baddest fighters in the National Hockey League, was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment last week.

The New York Rangers winger, 28, made his living with his fists, and the 6ft 8ins, 260-pounder was feared and revered as an intimidating enforcer.

That someone so strong, so powerful, and so much in the prime of his life could die so suddenly - the cause of death is unclear - is a tragic reminder to make the most of our time.

Boogaard, as scary as he was on the ice, is remembered as a gentle giant off of it, and as a man who gave his time and energy to many charities and community causes.

His teammates on the Minnesota Wild, where he spent his first seven NHL seasons, and the Rangers, where he played 22 games last year before being sidelined with a season-ending concussion, were universal in their fond remembrances of a funny, smart and caring individual who worked hard to improve his game and was ever mindful of his celebrity stature and how he had the ability to lift the spirits and livelihoods of those in less-fortunate circumstances.

Boogaard's family announced that his brain would be donated to a Boston University study that is researching concussions and the degenerative effects that repeated hits to the head may have on the brain. It's a fitting final tribute to a warm-hearted player who persevered in the toughest job in ice hockey.