The late Derek Boogaard was a fan favorite.
He will always be associated with toughness, enforcement, and grit. His number 24 embodies it.
Now another enforcer, who is not quite a fan favorite and has already stirred controversy just by signing his contract, will be wearing Boogaard's number.
Matt Cooke, who signed with the Minnesota Wild on a three-year deal late last week, went to the parents of Boogaard to get their blessing for him to wear 24, and they obliged, according to Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
Cooke has worn 24 his entire NHL career, and in an interview with KFAN earlier today, said he had already gotten the Wild's blessing since Martin Havlat wore the number after Boogaard was no longer a member of Minnesota. He added; "I don't really feel comfortable putting it on without his mom and dad's blessing."
Boogaard passed away in May 2011 at the age of 28 from accidental alcohol and drug overdoses. Controversy stirred when an autopsy showed he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a brain condition that likely would've led to middle-aged dementia had Boogaard lived.
The disease is closely associated with high contact, violent sports.