MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office has ruled the death of former Minnesota Wild forward Derek Boogaard as accidental, saying he died from a mix of alcohol and oxycodone toxicity.
Boogaard, 28, was found dead in his downtown Minneapolis apartment on May 13. It happened five months after a season-ending concussion with the New York Rangers.
He began his NHL career with Minnesota and appeared in 255 games with the Wild from 2005-10.
One of the most feared fighters in the league, he was called the “Boogieman” by Wild fans and was the team’s enforcer and crowd favorite before moving on to the New York Rangers last season.
During his time with the NHL, Boogaard suffered considerably from concussions and sat out most of last season because of it.
Boogaard’s family admitted he struggled with addiction. In a statement they released late Friday afternoon, they said they had seen the Medical Examiner’s report.
“After repeated courageous attempts at rehabilitation and with the full support of the New York Rangers, the NHLPA, and the NHL, Derek had been showing tremendous improvement but was ultimately unable to beat his opponent,” his family said. “While he played and lived with pain for many years, his passion for the game, his teammates, and his community work was unstoppable.”
Oxycodone is a powerful, pain-relieving drug that is very addictive. When mixed with alcohol, it can become lethal.
“It’s a very risky proposition, mixing any kind of narcotic with any kind of alcohol,” said Carol Falkowski with the Minnesota Department of Human Services. “Both of them are strong depressant drugs, and both of them can surpress breathing, so taken in combination, it can really have unanticipated effects.”
After his death, Boogaard’s family donated his brain to medical researchers in Boston for further study on head trauma injuries.
Family, friends and teammates held a public memorial for him at the Xcel Energy Center on May 15. They want people to remember him, they said, as the person he was off the ice.
A funeral has been planned for Saturday at 10 a.m. in Regina, Saskatchewan. The funeral will be held at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Depot and is open only to family and close friends. The public will be invited to watch the service from a video feed in an adjacent chapel.