Derek Boogaard received more than 100 prescriptions before death
Derek Boogaard, the former Wild player whose death made him a poster boy for anti-enforcer sentiment, received more than 100 prescriptions for various pills from NHL team doctors in the years before his death.
That's perhaps the most alarming finding in a New York Times report out today that gives a by-the-prescription analysis of how easily Boogaard obtained drugs -- at times, a simple text message to a team doctor would do -- and how widely known his abuse problems were within the league.
Most of the information was provided by Boogaard's father, Len. The paper trail was incomplete, and it's unclear what Boogaard told doctors to get the pills, but the story paints a troubling picture of how his drug abuse was handled by the Wild and New York Rangers.
From the Times story, by reporter John Branch:
-In a six-month stretch from October 2008 to April 2009, while playing 51 games, Boogaard received at least 25 prescriptions for the painkillers hydrocodone or oxycodone, a total of 622 pills, from 10 doctors -- eight team doctors of the Wild, an oral surgeon in Minneapolis and a doctor for another N.H.L. team.
- In the fall of 2010, an official for the Rangers, Boogaard's new team, was notified of Boogaard's recurring abuse of narcotic pain pills. Nonetheless, a Rangers team dentist soon wrote the first of five prescriptions for hydrocodone for Boogaard after he sustained an injury.
- Another Rangers doctor, although aware that Boogaard also had been addicted to sleeping pills in the past, wrote nearly 10 prescriptions for Ambien during Boogaard's lone season with the team.
As we reported in our 2007 cover story, "The Boogeyman Drops the Gloves," Boogaard was the epitome of the brute-force hockey player that has been deemed quintessential to the sport for decades. At the time, the NHL was under relatively new scrutiny from experts who wanted the league to take another look at how fights are tolerated. That sentiment has continued to grow in the years since as long-term health risks related to head injuries have come to light.
Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment last summer. His brother, Aaron, was charged with felony third-degree sale of a controlled substance for giving Derek a prescription Oxydone pill the night before his death. Later that night, Derek went out on a drinking binge and took "a lot" more pills, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said at the time.
Another interesting bit from Branch's report: Boogaard called a league substance-abuse counselor that night.
At 7:11 p.m. on the date Derek Boogaard died, about an hour after the Minneapolis police say he was given at least one Percocet (oxycodone and acetaminophen) pill by his brother Aaron, Derek called Dan Cronin, a counselor for the league substance-abuse program, phone records show. The call lasted a minute. Boogaard and Cronin then exchanged seven texts over a 12-minute period. Boogaard went barhopping with friends and Aaron that night. Aaron and another brother found Derek's dead body in his apartment the next afternoon.
After Boogaard's death, an analysis of his brain found that he suffered from chronic traumatic encephaolpathy, which is caused by hits to the head, the Times reported. Since he died, Boogaard's case has continued to draw national criticism to the NHL.
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