Posted on May 15, 2011 · Posted in Brain Injury

Unfortunately, it looks like it will some time before we find out the cause of death for New York Rangers hockey player Derek Boogaard, 28, who was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment Friday.

On Saturday the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office conducted an autopsy on Boogaard, a fierce and feared hockey enforcer who sat out most of the season due to a concussion. But the autopsy results won’t be released until several weeks, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner told the Associated Press.

The player’s agent also told AP that he didn’t have any explanation regarding Boogaard’s demise.

The question most people will want answered is to what extent the concussion that Boogaard suffered during a fight in early December, which has kept him on the bench ever since, contributed to his death, directly or indirectly. Several athletes, including former Chicago Bears player Dave Duerson, who sustained concussions during their careers have committed suicide.

At this point, one can’t draw any conclusion’s about Boogaard’s death. Authorities have said there was no evidence of foul play. And the huge player apparently has a history of substance abuse, which could have played into his death.

His family is donating his brain to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, which is performing tests on the brains of deceased National Football League players, The Star Tribune reported Saturday.

“Derek loved sports and obviously in particular hockey, so we believe Derek would have liked to assist with research on a matter that had affected him later on in his career,” Ryan Boogaard, Derek’s younger brother, told The Star Tribune.

Ryan and Boogaard’s other brother, Aaron, are the ones who discovered Derek unconscious shortly after 6 p.m. Friday. Derek subsequently died.

Boogaard suffered a number of concussions during his career, but his final one was particularly bad. In March he complained about staying in his apartment for three weeks at one because of the impact of the concussion.

The New York Times weighed in on Boogaard’s concussion woes Sunday.

But Boogaard apparently also had some demons. He enrolled in an NHL substance abuse program while with the Rangers. And when he was playing with the Minnesota Wilds, he was secretly in that program for several weeks, while publicly saying he was out with  a concussion.

“The news that we have lost someone so young and so strong leaves everyone in the National Hockey League stunned and saddened,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “The NHL family sends its deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Derek Boogaard, to those who played and worked with him and to everyone who enjoyed watching him compete.”

About the Author

Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, Jr.
Past Chair Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, American Association of Justice :: 800-992-9447