I was just returning to a hotel near Villanova University late Friday night after a dinner with family to celebrate my daughter's graduation this weekend, when the cell phone rang.
"Zip, I know there couldn't be a worse time to call, especially with bad news," a Rangers spokesman said. "But I felt you needed to know."
I scrambled upstairs to write a story for the late editions that really doesn't answer any questions or offer the proper perspective on Derek Boogaard, who I got to know a little bit this injury-scarred season. From my perspective, a good guy.
The writer who knows Boogey best is Michael Russo, of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, who covers the Wild, and I refer you to his stories and blogs for the next few days....
If you've read this blog, you know that the big fella was injured on and off, but was willing to schmooze in the locker room on a variety of topics, including women's college basketball: His sister was playing for Kansas. He talked about his troubling Dec. 9 concussion and how afraid he was when he wasn't feeling better right away. About how happy he was to starting workouts again and being able to skate without symptoms.
Katie Strang (katiestrangNYI on twitter and on newsday.com) will grab the reins today and tomorrow. There will be more statements---the NHL sent regrets this morning---and quotes from teammates and perhaps preliminary autopsy results, and final assessments down the road. Boogaard had more than 55 fights in his NHL career and whether his sudden passing is related to brian damage is unclear at this point.
Condolences to Derek's family.
As for me, this long-planned weekend with family and friends continues. Will be back here on Monday...