We always have had an affinity for the the tough guys. They too often are willing to punch each other in the face for the sake of entertainment. Most people don't get punched in the face as part of their job, and that's why always respect the guys who have to do the dirtiest part of the game (much like our soldiers and veterans.)
When Boogaard passed away, people could have seen his passing as coincidental; that it was an isolated case of an enforcer who simply had problems. But when two other established fighters passed on due to issues relating to depression (while other fighters began going to treatment centers before it was too late), it made people understand that enforcers are not some robotic gladiators who are there simply for our amusement. Turns out that they're human, too.
As one compares hockey from the 1970s to the hockey of today, the slow death of enforcer culture has gotten to the point where it's almost extinguished today. People can blame injuries or nerds for taking fighting out of the game, but enforcer culture is dying because fighting was never meant to evolve with the game. There has never been any formal instructions in the game as to how to fight, nor has there been any equipment implemented to provide innovation in fighting (unless one counts jersey straps, which serves as a deterrent to the type of antics Rob Ray was known for.) If fighting in hockey had evolved like a martial art, it would still be prevalent with the game today. Instead, it was basically used a proactive tactic (for intimation) or a reactive tactic (for retaliation.) It was one thing when the players were 190 lbs like when Dave Schultz and Tiger Williams played. Yet as the Bob Probert's descended onto the world and gave birth to the George Laraque's, the fighters got bigger and meaner while the game didn't grow with them. Injuries became more gruesome and concussions became more severe because nothing was protecting the fighters.
We know that know. Unfortunately, these guys paid for it with their lives. Not to dig up the past, but it wouldn't be fitting to go on without acknowledging that it still hurts from their loss. Our thoughts, prayers, and well-wishes remain with you and your loved ones.