Drugs In The NHL? The Boogard Story


A reader emailed me a link to a story that I had not seen before from the NY Times on Derek Boogard and drugs in the NHL, prescription drugs. It’s a fascinating read and much to the emailers point, a story that seems to be getting little attention in the traditional hockey media.

“In his final three seasons playing in the National Hockey League, before dying last year at 28 of an accidental overdose of narcotic painkillers and alcohol, Derek Boogaard received more than 100 prescriptions for thousands of pills from more than a dozen team doctors for the Minnesota Wild and the Rangers.”

Think about that, over 100 scripts in three years. I would think that for a sick person that would be a huge number, but for an athlete to be getting that number of scripts….wow.

“In a six-month stretch from October 2008 to April 2009, while playing 51 games, Boogaard received at least 25 prescriptions for the painkillers hydrocodone or oxycodone, a total of 622 pills, from 10 doctors — eight team doctors of the Wild, an oral surgeon in Minneapolis and a doctor for another N.H.L. team.”

Now, I’ve never been addicted to anything. I’ve never had to take those kinds of pain meds, but good lord, 25 scripts in 6 months, 9/10 doctors prescribing these meds were NHL team doctors. Good lord.

“The records paint an incomplete picture. They do not show what Boogaard told doctors or the degree to which he may have misled them. They do not indicate what the doctors knew, if anything, about Boogaard’s pursuit of drugs bought illicitly on his own. They do not reflect whether the doctors knew what other doctors were diagnosing or prescribing.”

Ok, I can buy that, but still the teams knew this guy was a mess and yet they still made it pretty damn easy for him to get more pills. With friends like that….

“None of the doctors mentioned in this article would comment. Neither would Dr. Brian Shaw or Dr. David Lewis, co-directors of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program that they founded in 1996 through the N.H.L. and its players association. They took on oversight of Boogaard’s care after he was placed in rehabilitation in 2009. Dr. Lewis is a psychiatrist on the staff of the Canyon, a rehabilitation center in Malibu, Calif. Dr. Shaw is a psychologist based in Toronto.”

There’s no surprise that the dr’s would talk. Whether balanced or not, this article is making them look not only silly but culpable for the guys death.

“He requested and received Derek’s medical records from the Wild. The Rangers initially refused, but Boogaard eventually received them through the players association. He asked for records from the private practices of team doctors, too, and received them from most.”

No why would the Rangers refuse? What would they have to hide I wonder…..

““Derek was an addict,” Len Boogaard said. “But why was he an addict? Everyone said he had ‘off-ice’ issues. No, it was hockey.”

Ouch, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement for the league around Stanley Cup time now is it.

“Len Boogaard has considered lawsuits. But he said that taking the N.H.L. and those with ties to it to court could take a financial and time commitment that he could not afford. He cited the example of Steve Moore, a Colorado Avalanche player attacked on the ice by Vancouver’s Todd Bertuzzi in 2004. A long-awaited trial is scheduled to begin later this year.

“It’s not the money,” Len Boogaard said. “But in eight years, how many more players are going to go through something like what Derek did?”

It’s a shame that a father has to feel that way. The bigger question is who in the league is going through something similar?

A great read in the Ny Times. Check it out here

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