Boogaard's family donates his brain
The family of former Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers enforcer Derek Boogaard is donating his brain to Boston University researchers studying brain disease in athletes, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported Saturday.
Boogaard, 28, was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment by family members Friday night, according to the Hennepin County medical examiner's office.
The cause of his death has not been revealed. An autopsy was conducted Saturday but the results are not expected to be released for weeks.
Foul play was not initially suspected, but the Minneapolis homicide unit was investigating.
According to a New York Post report Saturday, Boogaard had been receiving counseling in the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program in recent weeks, but sources close to the situation said it would be unfair to draw inferences from Boogaard's participation in the program in relation to his death.
Boston University's Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy (CSTE) is attempting to address a "concussion crisis" in sports.
In March, the CSTE announced that although former Red Wings and Blackhawks left wing Bob Probert had died of heart failure last year at age 45, he also suffered from the degenerative brain disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
He was the second hockey player to be diagnosed with the disease by the CSTE, the first being 1960s enforcer Reggie Fleming.
Unfailingly cordial and very popular among his teammates and peers throughout the league, Boogaard had an unhappy season with the Rangers that was cut short after just 22 games when the winger suffered a concussion in a Dec. 9 fight in Ottawa with Matt Carkner, the New York Post reported.
He was signed to a four-year, $6.5 million free agent contract last summer based on his pugilistic exploits.
Boogaard, who completed the season with one goal, one assist, 45 penalty minutes and seven fights in 45 games, began to skate on his own toward the end of the season, but management sent him home with about a week remaining because of unspecified issues.
Boogaard spent five years with the Wild before signing with the Rangers, developing a folk-hero-like persona while engaging in 54 fights in 255 games. More than Marian Gaborik, his high-scoring teammate on both the Wild and in New York, Boogaard received a hero's welcome when both returned to Minnesota for the first time as Rangers on Nov. 20.
The Wild extended their "deepest sympathies" to his family in a statement, adding, "Derek was a fan favorite during his five seasons with the Wild and will be greatly missed here in Minnesota and throughout the NHL. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Boogaard family during this tragic time of loss."
Read more here