TSN has an impeccably reported and wonderfully designed yet terribly sad story on former Wild enforcer Matt Johnson, who played here for the final four years of his career — the last of which was 2003-04, before a labor stoppage wiped out the next NHL season.
The story chronicles Johnson’s descent into painkiller abuse. His parents haven’t seen him in more than a decade, and the last anyone heard Johnson was homeless and living on a beach in California.
His family wonders if all the fighting he did in his career led to his problems. The story sadly tracks along similar lines to that of another former Wild enforcer Derek Boogaard, who died in 2011 amid his own battles with painkillers and alcohol.
Indeed, Boogaard’s father Len has been in touch with Johnson and is one of the many people quoted in the story who has tried to help Johnson along the way.
Really, you should read the whole thing. It’s a tough but rewarding read, and it’s a story that needs to be told.