Boogaard died of alcohol and drug mix

  • Article by: MICHAEL RUSSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 21, 2011 - 5:09 PM

Family says the ex-Wild enforcer "lived with pain" and struggled with addiction.

hide

Former Wild forward Derek Boogaard

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Derek Boogaard was one of the NHL's toughest enforcers for six seasons, but in the end, the former Wild and Rangers player couldn't fight off what ultimately killed him.

One week after the 28-year-old fan favorite was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment, his family acknowledged he struggled with addiction and "repeated courageous attempts at rehabilitation."

The statement came hours after Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Andrew Baker revealed Friday that Boogaard died of an accidental, toxic mix of alcohol and the powerful prescription painkiller, Oxycodone.

Boogaard's family, which will gather Saturday for his funeral in his hometown of Regina, Saskatchewan, thanked the Wild, Rangers, National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association "for supporting Derek's continued efforts in his battle."

"Derek had been showing tremendous improvement but was ultimately unable to beat this opponent," the message from Boogaard's parents, Len and Joanne, and brothers and sister said. "While he played and lived with pain for many years, his passion for the game, his teammates and his community work was unstoppable."

While it's still unclear what Boogaard had sought treatment for - an addiction to alcohol, painkillers or both - a former Wild team official said his death should raise larger questions about the roles and risks players like Boogaard assume in the NHL. "We need to change the culture and understanding in this game that tough guys especially, but all players who suffer head injuries are especially susceptible to depression and drug and alcohol addictions," said Tom Lynn, the Wild's assistant general manager from 2000-09.

Alcohol increases risk

Oxycodone, which can be addictive and has been blamed in many overdose deaths, reduces the brain center that controls respiration, causing one to breathe less. Alcohol use while taking painkillers can enhance those breathing problems and increase the risk of overdose, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Sources say Boogaard, who didn't play for the Rangers after suffering a concussion Dec. 9, voluntarily admitted himself into rehab at least three times since 2009, once while playing for the Wild.

Lynn, now a player agent who did not work for the Wild when Boogaard entered rehab, says his death is a wake-up call.

"Making a better helmet or changing the rules is fine, but they're not going to protect a guy when he's going into a bar or when he's getting three different doctors to get him prescriptions for painkillers because he's in the throes of pain and addiction."

Lynn added, "Here was a guy, like so many other tough guys, who really put his health and a lot of pain on the line to protect his teammates. He wasn't a mean guy, and so many tough guys are like this, they don't go out there because they like hurting people. They're really out there to protect their teammates. ... And in the end, we couldn't do enough to help Boogey, and that's the toughest part."

Back home from L.A.

Boogaard returned to Minneapolis on May 12 from Los Angeles. Witnesses say he spent that night into the wee hours of May 13 in downtown Minneapolis at several bars.

Sources say he was last seen alive by his brother Aaron around 4 a.m. May 13. Aaron Boogaard picked up brother Ryan at the airport that afternoon. When they arrived at Derek's home, they discovered him unconscious and not breathing.

The drug Percocet, a painkiller with small doses of Oxycodone in it, was found at the scene, according to sources close to the incident.

"He was a great guy," said Stewart Hafiz, manager of Sneaky Pete's bar in downtown Minneapolis, where Boogaard frequented. Witnesses say Boogaard was at Sneaky Pete's May 13. Hafiz didn't see him but had on other occasions.

"A lot of these athletes come in and never talk to the general public or take pictures," Hafiz said. "He always signed pictures, autographs. ... He would always be amongst the patrons."

Wild players say they never knew Boogaard was in rehab. Many remember finding it peculiar that he disappeared during the 2009 training camp and first two weeks of the season, but via texts, Boogaard told them he was getting over a concussion.

Because of anonymity of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Program, the Wild also reported that Boogaard was sidelined by a concussion.

"Regardless of what happened, this doesn't tarnish my love for Derek," Wild veteran Andrew Brunette said. "He selflessly gave everything and did not want anything in return. He was a guardian angel to all his teammates."

His funeral will be at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Depot where Boogaard's father, two uncles, stepmother and brother, Ryan, did their training.

On Saturday morning, Wild owner Craig Leipold and his son, Connor, planned to board his private plane with Wild players Brunette, Brent Burns, Nick Schultz and stff members.

Wild GM Chuck Fletcher will fly in from Hamilton, Ontario, where the Wild's minor-league team played Friday night.

Ryan Boogaard said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman called Boogaard’s mother Friday to extend his condolences and left a voicemail with Boogaard’s father. NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr and many Rangers will also attend the services.

"For me, Derek's image will be the same as when he scored that goal against Washington last year -- that smile on his face, that grin, that little laugh," Brunette said. "It was that same grin he'd have at the card table when he went all-in with pocket 3s and won the pot.

"Regardless of how he died, that'll never change that image."

Staff Writer Matt McKinney contributed to this report.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Philadelphia 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
Phoenix 12:00 PM
New York
Portland 6:00 PM
New Orleans
Utah 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Atlanta 7:00 PM
Houston
San Antonio 7:30 PM
Dallas
Indiana 8:00 PM
Denver
Milwaukee 9:30 PM
LA Clippers
Arizona 3:00 PM
Los Angeles
Colorado 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Philadelphia 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 6:00 PM
Montreal
Washington 6:00 PM
New Jersey
Tampa Bay 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Florida 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
NY Rangers 6:00 PM
Carolina
Chicago 6:00 PM
Columbus
Nashville 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Calgary 9:00 PM
Vancouver
St. Louis 9:30 PM
San Jose
VA Commonwealth 11:00 AM
Cincinnati
Charlotte 11:00 AM
Georgetown
SMU 11:00 AM
Michigan
Louisville 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Mount St Marys 12:00 PM
American Univ
Abilene Christian 12:00 PM
Boise State
UMass Lowell 12:00 PM
Duquesne
South Alabama 12:00 PM
IUPUI
Ohio State 12:00 PM
North Carolina
Massachusetts 12:00 PM
Providence
Syracuse 12:00 PM
Villanova
Citadel 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Belmont 12:30 PM
Fairfield
St Bonaventure 1:00 PM
Binghamton
Montreat 1:00 PM
Campbell
Delaware 1:00 PM
Fair-Dickinson
South Florida 1:00 PM
Florida State
Vanderbilt 1:00 PM
Georgia Tech
SC State 1:00 PM
Houston
Missouri 1:00 PM
Illinois
Truett-McConnell 1:00 PM
Jacksonville
Toledo 1:00 PM
McNeese State
Elon 1:00 PM
UNC Greensboro
Drexel 1:00 PM
Penn State
St Francis-PA 1:00 PM
Rutgers
Albany 1:00 PM
Yale
PSU-Beaver 1:00 PM
Longwood
Eastern Ill 1:05 PM
Indiana State
Indiana 1:30 PM
Butler
Marshall 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
Lafayette 2:00 PM
Kansas
Oral Roberts 2:00 PM
Memphis
Western Mich 2:00 PM
Northwestern
Delaware State 2:00 PM
Oregon
Fla Atlantic 2:00 PM
St Francis-NY
Arkansas Tech 2:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
Howard Payne 2:00 PM
Texas-Arlington
UMBC 2:00 PM
Kennesaw St
St Josephs (IN) 2:05 PM
Chicago State
Eastern Mich 2:05 PM
Missouri State
UCLA 2:30 PM
Kentucky
UC Davis 3:00 PM
Air Force
Houston Baptist 3:00 PM
UC Riverside
Davidson 3:00 PM
Coll of Charleston
USC Upstate 3:00 PM
Miss State
NC Central 3:00 PM
Miss Valley St
Illinois State 3:00 PM
Murray State
Louisiana 3:00 PM
Northwestern St
Oakland 3:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Detroit 3:00 PM
Rhode Island
Presbyterian 3:00 PM
UT Martin
Monmouth 3:00 PM
Wagner
Southern U 3:00 PM
Wyoming
Iowa State 4:00 PM
Drake
Wake Forest 4:00 PM
Florida
High Point 4:00 PM
James Madison
Texas Southern 4:00 PM
Michigan State
New Hampshire 4:00 PM
Sacred Heart
Northeastern 4:00 PM
Santa Clara
Huston-Tillotson 4:00 PM
Texas State
Purdue 4:15 PM
Notre Dame
Prairie View 4:30 PM
Sam Houston St
Xavier 5:00 PM
Auburn
Bluffton 6:00 PM
Akron
NJIT 6:00 PM
Central Conn St
Hofstra 6:00 PM
Columbia
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Dayton
Iona 6:00 PM
George Mason
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
IUPU-Ft Wayne
Texas A&M 6:00 PM
Kansas State
Morgan State 6:00 PM
Manhattan
Saint Josephs 6:00 PM
Marist
East Carolina 6:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Richmond 6:00 PM
Pepperdine
La Salle 6:00 PM
Towson
Incarnate Word 6:05 PM
UMKC
CS-Bakersfield 6:30 PM
Idaho State
Iowa 6:30 PM
Northern Iowa
Milwaukee 6:30 PM
SIU Edwardsville
Long Beach State 7:00 PM
Texas
TX-San Antonio 7:00 PM
TCU
SE Missouri St 7:30 PM
Arkansas
Lehigh 8:00 PM
Arizona State
New Mexico 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Oklahoma 8:00 PM
Washington
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Weber State
Jacksonville St 8:00 PM
Northern Colorado
St Edwards 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
NC State 8:30 PM
West Virginia
TX A&M-CC 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Cal Poly 9:00 PM
Gonzaga
Fresno State 9:00 PM
Pacific
Montana State 9:00 PM
Portland
Ball State 9:00 PM
San Diego St
South Dakota St 9:05 PM
Utah State
Stanford 10:00 PM
BYU
Utah 10:30 PM
UNLV
Nevada 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Livingstone 11:00 AM
UNC Greensboro
Loyola-Chicago 11:00 AM
Dartmouth
Georgia Tech 11:00 AM
St Francis-NY
Auburn 11:00 AM
St Johns
East Tenn St 11:00 AM
Jacksonville St
Western Mich 11:00 AM
Detroit
Cal-Irvine 11:00 AM
Wright State
Gardner-Webb 11:00 AM
Kennesaw St
(7) Stanford 12:00 PM
(11) Tennessee
Alabama A&M 12:00 PM
Ole Miss
Central Michigan 12:00 PM
(1) South Carolina
Nebraska Omaha 12:00 PM
Creighton
FIU 12:00 PM
Western Carolina
Houston 12:00 PM
Nicholls
St Thomas Aquinas 12:00 PM
Army
St Bonaventure 12:00 PM
Niagara
Texas State 12:00 PM
Stetson
George Mason 12:05 PM
ULM
Grambling 1:00 PM
Kansas State
Missouri 1:00 PM
Wake Forest
Robert Morris 1:00 PM
Cornell
Air Force 1:00 PM
Abilene Christian
Hampton 1:00 PM
James Madison
American Univ 1:00 PM
MD-Eastern Shore
Texas Southern 1:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Tenn Tech 1:00 PM
NC A&T
Presbyterian 1:00 PM
NC Central
Penn 1:00 PM
Drexel
Lipscomb 1:00 PM
Xavier
Vermont 1:00 PM
Green Bay
Charleston Southern 1:00 PM
UNC-Wilmington
Ohio Christian 1:00 PM
Akron
Jacksonville 1:00 PM
Murray State
(17) Rutgers 1:00 PM
Iona
Indiana 1:00 PM
Oakland
Indiana State 1:30 PM
SMU
Denver 1:30 PM
Purdue
TX-San Antonio 2:00 PM
Texas Tech
UCF 2:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Campbell 2:00 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Florida A&M 2:00 PM
SE Louisiana
Northwestern St 2:00 PM
Jackson State
Lehigh 2:00 PM
Arizona State
Valparaiso 2:00 PM
SIU-Edwardsville
Toledo 2:00 PM
Southern Ill
Liberty 2:30 PM
Minnesota
Wofford 2:30 PM
North Florida
Montana State 3:00 PM
Washington St
Marshall 3:00 PM
(22) West Virginia
Morgan State 3:00 PM
Chattanooga
Northeastern 3:00 PM
Harvard
Furman 3:00 PM
(15) Georgia
(18) Michigan State 3:00 PM
(9) Baylor
Ohio U 3:00 PM
Massachusetts
Prairie View 3:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
High Point 3:00 PM
(12) Nebraska
Winthrop 3:05 PM
Wichita State
William Jewell 3:30 PM
UMKC
Louisiana Tech 4:00 PM
Utah
Southern Utah 4:00 PM
Gonzaga
Hawaii 4:00 PM
Loyola Marymount
San Jose St 4:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Northridge 4:00 PM
San Diego State
Norfolk State 4:00 PM
East Carolina
Saint Peters 4:00 PM
Loyola-Maryland
Arizona 4:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Northwestern 4:30 PM
Eastern Illinois
Oral Roberts 5:00 PM
Wisconsin
Florida Atlantic 5:00 PM
New Mexico St
La Salle 5:00 PM
Georgia State
(16) Oregon State 5:30 PM
Nevada
Sacred Heart 6:00 PM
Villanova
Delaware 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Saint Louis 6:30 PM
Utah Valley U
Washington 7:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Pacific 7:00 PM
Long Beach St
Old Dominion 7:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
Austin Peay 9:00 PM
Montana
Lewis-Clark State 9:00 PM
Idaho
(21) Miss State 9:30 PM
Illinois-Chicago
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close