When Lightning G Mike Smith heard Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard died, he said, "I got goose bumps."
Smith played with Boogaard in 2005-06 with AHL Houston and said the 6-foot-7, 265-pounder, one of the game's fiercest fighters, really was a gentle giant.
"He was a big teddy bear," Smith said Saturday, "a really likable guy, soft spoken. The way he played did not reflect in any way how he was off the ice."
Lightning G Dwayne Roloson, who played with Boogaard in 2005-06 with the Wild, and RW Adam Hall, also a teammate with the Wild in 2006-07, said the same.
"An awesome guy in the (locker) room," Roloson said.
"A great teammate," Hall said, "fun to be around."
It is quite a picture given the statistics. Boogaard, 28, found dead Friday in his Minneapolis apartment, had three goals and 16 points and 589 penalty minutes in 277 games with Minnesota and New York.
"Not shy but very soft spoken," Smith said, "a guy who was real easy to talk to. You'd think it was two different people when you saw him on the ice and talked to him off the ice. He's going to be missed for sure."
"It's pretty tough to handle," said Roloson, who said he visited regularly this season with Boogaard when Roloson was with the Islanders.
"I remember when he first broke in. Every day he came to work hard. He wanted to get better. He wanted to make it in the NHL and wanted to prove every person out there that said he couldn't make it wrong, and he succeeded. It's very unfortunate. My heart goes out to his family."
Foul play is not suspected in Boogaard's death, but it is being investigated. An autopsy was being conducted Saturday; Hennepin County spokeswoman Carol Allis said results probably will not be released for at least two weeks.
HEAD ISSUES: Simon Gagne did not say he had a concussion from his head hitting the ice April 29 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal against the Capitals. But the left wing described undergoing a protocol meant to detect one.
"The first two days I did the bike 10, 15 minutes to see if anything showed up," he said. "I did a little bit more every day."
Gagne, back in the lineup Saturday for Game 1 of the East final against the Bruins, said the 10-day break between series was an advantage.
"In the regular season I don't know if you can prepare yourself like that," he said.
Bottom line, Gagne said, "I wasn't too worried about it. That's why I'm confident everything is okay."
IN AND OUT: Coach Guy Boucher stuck with 11 forwards and seven defensemen, so C Blair Jones, who played in Gagne's absence, was on the bench.
Jones also had to wait in the locker room after the morning skate as Gagne was interviewed by reporters who spilled into Jones' adjacent space. "My stall is always taken because I sit next to the big dogs on the team," Jones said,
"I got an opportunity to play and I tried to use that as well as I could and felt I did a pretty good job," added Jones, who had zero points and six hits while averaging 6:11 of ice time in three games.
"It's obviously a big boost to the lineup to have Gags back, to add some scoring punch. You can never have enough of that this time of year."
ODDS AND ENDS: Boucher said F Dana Tyrell (foot), out since April 20, needs another week before playing. ... D Matt Smaby also was scratched.
Times staff writer Joe Smith contributed to this report, which used information from Times wires.