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  • Derek Boogaard was a Canadian hockey player who passed away from an alcohol and oxycodone overdose. At the time of his death, Boogaard was recovering from a concussion.

    How Derek Boogaard Died

    Derek Boogaard died from an accidental overdose of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodone.

    The 28-year-old passed away on May 13, 2011, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, after a night of drinking alcohol along with ingesting the opioid oxycodone.

    Brain Damage & Wrongful Death Lawsuit

    Because of the brain trauma Boogaard experienced throughout his career, Boogaard’s brain was donated to Boston University where researchers studied the chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) which Boogaard suffered from. 

    According to healthcare professionals, Boogaard’s brain tissue was significantly damaged.

    Because of this, a lawsuit against the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) was filed by the Boogaard family in 2012. 

    This wrongful death lawsuit was unsuccessful, but the family continued to shed light on Boogaard’s death, as well as other NHL enforcers who had recently passed away with similar health problems including Wade Belak and Red Wing player Bob Probert.

    About Derek Boogaard

    Derek Boogaard was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, on June 23, 1982, to parents Len and Joanne Boogaard. Len Boogaard was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

    Derek was one of four siblings. His other siblings were Aaron, Krysten, and Ryan Boogaard. Growing up, Derek Boogaard became interested in hockey and wished to skate with the National Hockey League (NHL) and have a NHL career.

    Professional Hockey Career 

    At over 6 ft and 200 lbs, Boogaard was offered a chance to join the Western Hockey League when he was approached by scouts from Regina Pats as a hockey enforcer. During the 1998-1999 season, Boogaard received 166 penalty minutes out of 35 games played.

    Unfortunately, Boogaard backed out of a match and a string of incidents later took place. For instance, Boogaard was in a bar fight and assaulted seven men.

    Later, Boogaard joined the Prince George Cougars in which he lost his first fight to the future NHL enforcer of the New York Islanders, Eric Godard. Boogaard eventually achieved his dream and was drafted into the NHL, signing a contract with the Minnesota Wild.

    NHL Injuries

    With the Minnesota Wild, Boogaard received the nickname “The Boogeyman” due to his intimidating presence and success. It was also during this time he began experiencing back pain, although still continuing to compete in the playoffs with the Minnesota Wild.

    Derek Boogaard know as "The Boogeyman" during his days with the Minnesota Wild engages in a fight against an opponent.

    Boogaard missed practices and, at the end of the NHL season, was eventually traded to the New York Rangers for a $6.5 million four-year contract. As his career continued, Boogaard received multiple injuries, including a concussion from a fight with Matt Carkner of the Ottawa Senators.

    Team doctors gave players certain medications to help with pain relief due to injuries. After receiving multiple concussions and injuries, he began experiencing headaches and stopped participating in sporting events.

    Derek Boogaard’s History Of Substance Abuse

    Boogaard was frequently prescribed medications for pain relief from team doctors. To help with pain, Boogaard would take high doses of drugs such as OxyContin.

    Other teammates would share prescription pills with Boogaard, further contributing to his drug use.

    According to the New York Times, Jordan Hart was arrested in 2014 for selling the pain medication to Boogaard shortly before his death. Hart was eventually sentenced to one year of probation and 100 hours of community service.

    Did Derek Boogaard Attend Addiction Treatment?

    During the 2009-2010 season, Boogaard attended a drug rehabilitation treatment center in Southern California. However, the Minnesota Wild team stated he was simply missing games due to a concussion.

    Boogard was once again sent to rehab in California where his brother Aaron lived. Unfortunately, Boogaard’s brother stated that instead of attending rehab meetings, they enjoyed the beach and explored the area while Boogaard spent thousands of dollars.

    Just a few months later, Boogard would die from an overdose. 

    Recovery Is Possible

    The death of Derek Boogaard serves as a reminder to seek treatment for any type of alcohol or drug abuse.

    With professional care and support, recovery from opioid and alcohol addiction is possible. To learn how we address substance use disorder in both inpatient and outpatient treatment settings, please contact us today.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2024 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    CBS New York — Official: Alcohol, Oxycodone To Blame In Death Of Rangers’ Derek Boogaard - Link Text
    ESPN — Derek Boogaard death ruled accidental - Link Text
    Los Angeles Times — Death of Rangers’ Derek Boogaard caused by mix of alcohol, oxycodone, officials say - Link Text
    The New York Times — Player Who Sold Pills to Derek Boogaard Is Sentenced to Probation - Link Text
    Reuters — Two men charged over painkillers sold to NY Rangers' Derek Boogaard - Link Text

    Medically Reviewed by
    Manish Mishra, MBBS
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