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Boogaard's death hits Canucks hard

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- The announcement of Derek Boogaard's death struck a chord inside the dressing room of the Vancouver Canucks, just as it has across the hockey world.

 

Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis played three seasons of junior hockey with Boogaard. They were together with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League from 1999-2002.

 

Hamhuis said he and Boogaard were close when they played together.

 

"It was kind of shocking," Hamhuis said Saturday about how he felt when he learned of Boogaard's death Friday night. "I played with him in junior, and it's certainly very sad. He was a really good guy, certainly very quiet. He played a difficult role being a fighter, and he and I were pretty good friends in junior. It's sad to see that happen."

 

Boogaard, who was in the middle of a four-year contract with the New York Rangers, was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment by family members Friday evening. An investigation to determine the cause of his death is ongoing, according to Minneapolis police Sgt. Bill Palmer, who spoke with The Associated Press.

 

An autopsy was scheduled for Saturday, but the AP is reporting that it may be weeks before authorities are able to determine the cause of death.

 

"It hits you right away," said Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. "Obviously we don't know any details or anything, but you immediately feel for his family and friends. It's just a sad situation."

 

Boogaard was well known for being a tough guy. The 6-foot-7 forward was one of the most physical players in the NHL.

 

"In my opinion he is probably among the top three toughest guys of all time to play the game and probably the most feared fighter of all time," Bieksa said. "He was a specimen. He hurt a lot of people when he fought and a lot of people said no to him.

 

"It's a huge loss for the game, but the most important thing is his family and friends. I hope they can get by this tough time."

 

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl