[Part One of “Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer.”] But big-time hockey has a unique side entrance. Boogaard could fight his way there with his bare knuckles, his stick dropped, the game paused and the crowd on its feet. And he did, all the way until he became the Boogeyman, the N.H.L.’s most fearsome fighter, a caricature of a hockey goon rising nearly 7 feet in his skates.
Over six seasons in the N.H.L., Boogaard accrued three goals and 589 minutes in penalties and a contract paying him $1.6 million a year.
On May 13, his brothers found him dead of an accidental overdose in his Minneapolis apartment. Boogaard was 28. His ashes, taking up two boxes instead of the usual one, rest in a cabinet at his mother’s house in Regina. His brain, however, was removed before the cremation so that it could be examined by scientists.