The New York Rangers on Friday confirmed the death of enforcer Derek Boogaard.
The Rangers released a statement not long after a report from the Minneapolis Star Tribune indicated that Boogaard was found dead early Friday morning by members of his family in his Minneapolis apartment.
The cause of death was not immediately known. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office in Minnesota said an autopsy was pending.
Boogaard would have turned 29 next month.
"Derek was an extremely kind and caring individual," Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said in a statement. "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."
Boogaard had just completed his first season with the Rangers after signing as a free agent. He spent the first several seasons of his career with the Minnesota Wild, who drafted him in 2001.
The six-foot-seven forward earned a reputation as arguably the most feared fighter in the league. He scored three goals and 13 assists while racking up 589 penalty minutes in 277 career NHL games.
He only played 22 times with New York, suffering a concussion after a fight in a game in early December.
"The Minnesota Wild organization sends our deepest sympathies to the family of Derek Boogaard," team said in a statement. "Derek was a fan favourite during his five seasons with the Wild and will be greatly missed here in Minnesota and throughout the NHL. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boogaard family during this tragic time of loss."
The NHLPA also offered their condolences in a statement.
Born in Saskatoon, Boogaard played with Regina, Prince George and Medicine Hat while in the Western Hockey League.