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NHL Enforcer Boogaard Found Dead In His Apartment

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Derek Boogaard

Derek Boogaard (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) It may be weeks before authorities know exactly how and why New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died, although foul play is not immediately suspected.

The 28-year-old player was found dead Friday in his Minneapolis apartment. The team announced his death Friday but gave no details.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner was conducting an autopsy Saturday. County spokeswoman Carol Allis said authorities probably wouldn’t release results for at least two weeks.

Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer said authorities received a report of a man not breathing shortly before 6:15 p.m. Friday. Minneapolis fire officials were the first to arrive and determined he was dead.

Palmer said authorities do not suspect foul play at this point, but the police department’s homicide unit and the medical examiner’s office are both investigating. Palmer said the medical examiner will determine the final cause of death.

“I don’t think we have any answers as to what happened or why it happened,” Ron Salcer, Boogaard’s agent, said Saturday.

Allis said in cases where there are no obvious signs of physical trauma or an obvious immediate cause of death, it can take time for authorities to receive results of laboratory tests. Allis added that the medical examiner’s office doesn’t anticipate that it will release preliminary autopsy findings until all results are in.

“The news that we have lost someone so young and so strong leaves everyone in the National Hockey League stunned and saddened,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “The NHL family sends its deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Derek Boogaard, to those who played and worked with him and to everyone who enjoyed watching him compete.”

Glen Sather, the Rangers’ president and general manager, called Boogaard an “extremely kind and caring individual.”

“He was a very thoughtful person, who will be dearly missed by all those who knew him,” Sather said Friday.

Boogaard signed a four-year, $6.5 million deal with Rangers in July and appeared in 22 games with them last season. He had a goal and an assist to go with 45 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot-7 Boogaard was one of the most feared fighters in the league. He missed the last 52 games of the regular season with a concussion and shoulder injury and did not play in the playoffs.

NHL Players’ Association executive director Don Fehr said in a statement Friday that Boogaard was “a well-liked and respected member of the NHLPA, and his passing is a great loss to the entire hockey community.”

Boogaard began his NHL career with Minnesota and appeared in 255 games with the Wild from 2005-10. He missed four games with the Wild due to a concussion.

“Derek was a fan favorite during his five seasons with the Wild and will be greatly missed here in Minnesota and throughout the NHL,” the team said.

In 277 regular-season games with Minnesota and the Rangers over six seasons, he had three goals and 13 assists and 589 penalty minutes.

The Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, native was Minnesota’s seventh-round choice, 202nd overall, in the 2001 draft.

This is the second death of a player in the Rangers organization in the past three years. Alexei Cherepanov, drafted by New York in 2007, died in Chekhov, Russia, on Oct. 13, 2008, after collapsing on the bench during a game. 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 several years ago, was found dead in a hotel room in Turkey while on vacation in 2003. His death was believed to be a suicide.

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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