New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard, who was put out of commission in December after suffering a concussion, died of an accidental overdose of the pain killer oxycodone and alcohol, according to authorities.
Boogaard, a feared player, was discovered dead in his Minneapolis apartment May 13. He was 28.
His family released a statement after the toxicology report was released on Boogaard, who had been in substance abuse rehab program that the National Hockey League and the players’ union run.
“We are deeply saddened by this unimaginable loss, but we are grateful for the expression of support that has given us strength as we go through this tragic time,” his family said. “After repeated courageous attempts at rehabilitation and with the full support of the New York Rangers, the NHIPA, and the NHL, Derek had been showing tremendous improvement but was ultimately unable to beat this opponent.”
Boogaard sustained three major concussions during his NHL career, and his family donated his brain to the Boston University School of Medicine, which will examine it to see if he was suffering from a degenerative disease linked to head injuries.
Such brain disease often leads to depression, a factor that certainly would have made it harder for Boogaard to kick his drug habit.