"He's partially the reason I'm in the NHL," Thornton said. "He broke Fedoruk's face in a fight. That's what gave me my chance."
This morning, a day after Boogaard's passing, Thornton offered his respects to the reigning heavyweight champion.
"There's a lot of guys do this job," said Thornton, who fought Boogaard earlier this season on Oct. 23. "He was definitely at the top of the list of guys you really didn't want to run into. If you had to, you had to. That's our job. But he had the potential to hurt you."
Shane Hnidy was teammates with Boogaard in Minnesota in 2009-10. Hnidy noted that Boogaard, like most tough guys, was one of the nicest men in the room.
"Everybody just saw the big, tough exterior," Hnidy said. "But he was a great guy who really gave back. Especially in Minny, he was probably the most popular player there. He gave back. He was always there."