The death of New York Rangers' forward Derek Boogaard, the 28-year-old enforcer who died mysteriously earlier this month, has been ruled an accident, due to a toxic mix of alcohol and oxycodone. Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment last Friday, five months after he sustained a season-ending concussion.
Boogaard, who had been voted "toughest fighter" and "most intimidating player" in the league several times over during his six seasons, had been involved in the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavoral Program during his final days according to friends. Boogaard's agent, Ron Salcer, said he thought Boogaard had turned a corner from his addictions: "The scary part is Derek was doing so well, so much better," he said.
Drinking alcohol while taking strong painkillers like oxycodone can result in breathing problems and increase the risk of an overdose, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Medical examiners were not sure exactly when he died, but declined to release any more information. Given Boogaard's stature as a prolific fighter on the ice—he had been involved in 70 fights—his family has agreed to donate his brain to the Sports Legacy Institute at Boston University for research on concussive brain injuries.