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Did the NHL Kill Derek Boogaard? 59

Derek Boogaard spoke with his fists, now his family is doing the talking for him (courtesy of

It was May of 2011 when the NHL world was turned upside down with the loss of New York Rangers and former Minnesota Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard. After an autopsy revealed that Boogaard’s death was due to an accidental overdose on painkillers and alcohol, it was revealed that Boogaard was seeking treatment with the NHL’s Behavior Health Substance Abuse program and Boogaard’s brain was donated to science by his parents.


On Sunday it was reported by the New York Times that the family of the man they called “The Boogyman” had filed a wrongful death suit against the NHL .  “…you take a young man,you subject him to trauma, you give him pills for that trauma, he becomes addicted to those pills, you promise to treat him for that addiction, and you fail” says William Gibbs, the Boogaard’s lawyer. The suit was filed by the same law firm that filed the wrongful death suit of former Chicago Bears safety Dave Duerson.  Duerson, who committed suicide in February of ’11, also had his brain examined, and like Derek, suffered from what is known as C.T.E (chronic trauma encelopathy) a degenerative brain disease caused by multiple traumas to the head. Duerson’s suit has now been merged with the likes of 4,200 other players in the NFL who are suing the league for damages received during their playing careers.

Boogaard’s suit alleges that the League allowed and encouraged Derek Boogaard, after suffering concussions, to return to

Derek Boogaard in action (courtesy of Getty Images)

Derek Boogaard in action (courtesy of Getty Images)

play and fight in the same game and/or practice,” and that the doctors of both the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers provided Boogaard with “…copious amounts of prescription pain medications, sleeping pills, and painkiller injections”

Boogaard was in and out of drug rehabs and the suit details the care that he received in these rehabs as reasons that lead to his death.

The suit was filed just before the deadline for the statue of limitations to kick in in the state of New York.

Boogaard was the first of four tragic deaths in hockey in the summer of 2011. After Boogaard’s death in May, the tragic plane crash that killed the Lokomotiv Yaroslav hockey team. Then in August of the same year both Rick Rypien and Wade Belak both committed suicide. Both, like Boogaard, were enforcers in the NHL.

The NHL declined to comment on the situation after the suit was filed.


If this suit goes through, unlike the suit the Boogaards filed against the NHLPA (which was dismissed in the Spring),  it could far exceed Derek Boogaard and his treatment by his doctors; this could turn into a media storm and if that’s the case then that’s horrible! Don’t piggyback on this poor family’s pain for your own gain! If the NHL or any parties involved in this suit did do wrong then by all means they should be punished, but if someone is going to get up on a soap box to promote their views on whatever, its sadly immoral. I understand how tragic this and the other two deaths to these brave enforcers who literally fought for their team, who gave blood, sweat, and tears to their brothers wearing the same sweaters, but a wrongful death suit?

Is it possible that Mr. Boogaard kept telling his coaches he was okay even though he was not? Yes! Did his coaches do everything they could to make sure that he was okay? I believe they did. Did the doctors do what they could to make sure he was okay? Yes.

So did the NHL kill Derek Boogaard? No. What killed Derek Boogaard was a disease, but it wasn’t C.T.E. Addictions, demons, killed Derek Boogaard.


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