Boogaard Family File Case

The case of Derek Boogaard was one that shocked the hockey world. The death of the New York Rangers’ enforcer in 2011 at just 28 raised questions about fighting in the NHL and the sport in general. Boogaard’s death was immediately caused by an accidental overdose of painkillers but was posthumously found to have chronic traumatic encephalopathy a brain disease that is heavily linked to being repeatedly hit in the head.

Now Boogaard’s family has filed a case against the NHL over the care that he received. The law suit details the care Boogaard received from the Minnesota Wild and the New York Rangers team doctors as well as the NHL’s Substance Abuse Program. It is a lawsuit that by providing details of Boogaard’s medical history during his playing career does question the way in which a player receives medical attention at games. For example Boogaard was prescribed 1,021 painkillers during the 2008 – 09 season alone and in a 2 year spell was administered 13 injections of pain masking agent Toradol by doctors of seven NHL teams. It is this care that it is alleged combined to lead Boogaard to a dependency on painkillers and ultimately assisted in his death.

A similar case was filed against the NFL setting precedence for players to file cases against a league over their treatment. However unlike in the NFL hockey players regularly play in other leagues and in other continents. Whilst the Boogaard case may bring some comfort to his family there is the bigger picture to look at.

All players receive lots of medical attention from pre season fitness tests to immediate assistance following an injury. In the NHL the doctors at the arena’s are some of the best in North America and at all rinks and arenas the doctors are dedicated hard working and professional but perhaps there is a need to improve how a players treatment history travels with him.

This was a tragic case but it does highlight that with players moving around a number of times in their careers and across not only cities and states but countries there is a need to better look after the players in the long term. The best possible outcome of this case is that a players treatment and long term well being is improved regardless of who they are or which league they play in.

Neil Tucker

Neil has written on ice hockey for many websites concentrating on British ice hockey mostly. Neil also covers ice hockey in other countries and organises his Blueliner Hockey Tour. A graduate of the Manchester Metropolitan University Neil turned his hand to hockey writing in 2009. As well as contributing on Blueliner Hockey Neil has contributed to Get Real Hockey and Slapshot Magasine.

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