(UPDATE: Two notes to add: Mike Russo of the Star Tribune reports that the Boogaard family will donate his brain to the Boston University researchers who study brain disease in athletes.
Larry Brooks of the NY Post Tweeted that Boogaard was receiving counseling in the NHL/PA Behavorial Health/Substance Abuse Program at the time of his death.)
Boogaard was found dead inside his apartment in Minneapolis by family members. No cause of death is known at the moment, but an autopsy will be performed.
From the Rangers:
"Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual," said New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather. "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."
Late Friday, the NHLPA released a statement on Boogaard's passing:
"The NHLPA is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Derek Boogaard. 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 played 277 NHL games between the Minnesota Wild and Rangers. He last played on Dec. 9 and missed the rest of his first season in New York with a concussion he suffered after a fight with Ottawa's Matt Carkner(notes). Known as "The Boogey Man" for being one of the league's toughest fighters, Boogaard dropped the gloves 61 times during his six-year NHL career.
The highlight of Boogaard's first year with the Rangers was this goal against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 30 to snap a 234-game goal drought:
"I don't know how to describe it," said goaltender Niklas Backstrom, who sat six feet away from Boogaard in the Wild locker room for four years. "It's really hard. Unreal guy. Great friend and an awesome teammate. Just a really big teddy bear. Outside the rink, he didn't want bad for anyone."
According to the New York Daily News, the Minneapolis medical examiner did not suspect foul play and an investigation is currently underway. The autopsy results will not be known for a few weeks.