Deceased NHL Enforcer Derek Boogaard’s Family Sues NHL


Deceased Enforcers Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak fight. Both were victims of C.T.E. Photo Credit-Joel Auerbach, US Presswire

The family of Derek Boogaard, the former National Hockey League winger and frequent fighter who died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, has filed a wrongful death suit against the NHL.

The suit claims the NHL benefited (profited) from Boogaard’s physical style of play by drumming up ratings; meanwhile, doctors treated the big man’s beat up body with painkillers, to which he became addicted.

“The NHL drafted Derek Boogaard because it wanted his massive body to fight in order to enhance ratings, earnings and exposure. Then, once he became addicted to these narcotics, the NHL promised his family that it would take care of him. It failed,” William Gibbs, one of the attorneys who filed the suit Monday, said, according to

Boogaard’s mother, Joanne Boogaard, also gave a statement in a release from her attorneys:

“He was there protecting his teammates at all costs, but who was there to protect him?”

Her statement speaks volumes to Boogaard’s character, his loyalty to his teammates and the attitude he brought to the game.

For anyone who has been a fan of Minnesota Wild hockey since the club’s inception in 2001, one of the most recognized names in the franchise’s history has to be the late, great, Boogaard.

The Boogey Man made his Wild debut in the 2005-06 season and had fans on their feet every time he stepped onto the ice to fill the NHL’s most intimidating role – the enforcer. When it came to hard checks, settling after-the-whistle disputes and putting the fear into the league’s tough guys, Boogaard was the toughest.

The role came at a high cost to the 6-foot-7, 255-pound Saskatchewan native. A December 5, 2011 New York Times article brutally detailed Boogaard’s battle with prescription painkillers, the flawed operating procedures that allowed him nearly unlimited access to the pills, and his tragic death. (Punched Out also has accompanying videos: Punched Out via youtube)

Boogaard was posthumously diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain condition closely related to Alzheimer’s Disease and thought to be caused by repeated brain trauma, the Times article states.

The family’s lawsuit claims the NHL could not have been ignorant to the consequences Boogaard faced.

A suit filed against the NHL Players Association last fall was dismissed last spring. Further action was also dismissed after Boogaard’s family and the union missed a filing deadline with a renewed suit against the league.

The case filed Monday will focus on Boogaard’s treatment by multiple team doctors with the Wild and New York Rangers.

It’s clear the Boogaard family is ready to pursue justice for Derek as long as it takes, and with good cause – his death was a wake up call for problems that have gone without discussion for too long, not only in the NHL but in other professional sports, as well.