Saturday, May 21, 2011

Unanswered Questions

It was hoped that when the Hennepin County medical examiner’s office finished with the autopsy of New York Ranger's forward Derek Boogaard that questions about his death would be answered.

That is not gong to be the case after Boogaard's death was ruled accidental due to mixing alcohol and the painkiller Oxycodone. Instead we find ourselves now with more questions than maybe we really want to ask or have answered.

The Boogaard family after the findings were made public issued a statement via the NHLPA which in part said:

"Earlier today, we received the results of Derek's toxicology report at the time of his accidental death. 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 this opponent. While he played and lived with pain for many years, his passion for the game, his teammates, and his community work was unstoppable."

If anything when you put together the 2 statements then more questions are cropping up that at the very least need to be asked even if they are never answered. For starters, the first question is "why was this death not prevented in the first place?"

If you go by the statement from the Boogaard family there were a lot of people who seemed to know that Boogaard had a couple of very serious issues. The question is not being asked to point fingers of blame at anyone but rather in the hope that maybe it prevents even one more death to this deadly cocktail.

If Boogaard had these issues and they were ongoing then who in the world would prescribe Oxycodone to Boogaard to begin with? We are talking about a painkiller that comes from the opiate family and has more warnings about it's use that the average painkiller.

It is seen as a highly addictive drug that is prescribed for people who are suffering from moderate to severe pain. It is habit forming as well as one of the worst to try to mix with alcohol.

Boogaard could hide his issues from the general public but an addiction to painkillers or alcohol could not be hidden from those who really knew him. Only those who are in denial about someone's addiction would not see his problem and clearly his family knew.

Again this is not to point fingers but honestly frustration at a death that could have and should have been prevented from happening. Somewhere along the line the system meant to help Boogaard failed him.

Yes I know Boogaard made the choice to mix the combination himself and nobody forced him to do it. But nobody wants to call Boogaard what he clearly was which was an addict to what it really does not matter but he was one.

Nobody wants to put the word "overdose" with the other word "accidental" but it does in fact belong there. It needs to be there for the world to deal with this death honestly and again in the hope of preventing someone else from dying.

And at the very same time am I the only one who is bothered by the efforts to make sure we know that head injuries were not a factor in Boogaard's death? Is it that important for the hockey world to believe that any concussion did not play a role in this death?

Bad news but sorry while it was not a direct cause of Boogaard's death it has to be added to the list of contributing factors. Remember the part of the statement where it said "lived with pain for many years"?

3 concussions in his career are added to the list of injuries that Boogaard suffered so let us not be so quick to jump for joy that it was not the direct cause of death. It is going to be very interesting to see what the Boston University School of Medicine says about their findings with Boogaard's brain.

And honestly Boogaard only has 3 recorded concussions as his career started while the mere mention of a concussion was dismissed as "he got his bell rung" or other cute sayings.

Here is one that is really troubling which is who's accounting should we accept now about Boogaard's final days? There are the many accounts that said "Boogaard was very happy, looking forward to making the Rangers and playing next season."

All of those who gave those accounts were said to be close friends of Boogaard but yet George Laraque is the only one who offers a different account. Laraque does not say when he last talked with Boogaard but these words here stand out:

"That had Boogaard a bit down"

Laraque of course is talking Boogaard supposedly being cleared to play but sent home by the Rangers instead. Kicking the Rangers is a favorite hobby by many in the NHL.

Still when adding everything together no matter what questions asked or answered that in the end one sad reality remains. Derek Boogaard is gone and nothing is going to bring him back but one last question does need to be asked.

So what can we learn from this tragedy?

Hopefully something of value because this is so senseless.


The 2011 Memorial Cup got underway on Friday night and sadly hockey fans in the USA unless they purchased the game on a mobile device missed a good one. Saint John the champions of the QMJHL opened the tournament by defeating the host team the Mississauga St. Michaels Majors 4-3.

Saint John jumped out to an early 1-0 lead just 1:44 into the game but Islander prospect Casey Cizikas (game's 3rd star) tied the game with a goal at 7:07. Both of those goals came at even strength which becomes key since the remaining 5 goals in the game all came via power plays.

Mississauga was not their ususal disciplined self and paid for it as they gave up 3 power play goals but also took penalties which hurt their chances of coming back to tie the game. Saint John went 3 for 8 while Mississuaga was 2 for 7.

Casey Cizikas had a second goal which made the game close but Mississauga is picking the wrong time of the year to go on a losing streak. The loss is their 3rd straight dating back to Game 6 of the OHL Finals.

If you are interested the game will be replayed on the NHL Network at 9 AM on Saturday. 


Scott Stajcer's signing was announced on Friday by the Rangers but that does not automatically mean he will be playing in the AHL or ECHL next season. If the Rangers resign Chad Johnson then they will have one goalie too many.

Right now the whispers say that the Rangers are not going to offer Johnson a qualifying offer turning him into a UFA. 

(Boogaard courtesy of the New York Rangers)


Anonymous said...

Seems Larry Brooks breaking news about 10 days ago was not so out of place. Perhaps,the addiction played a role in his being sent on his way once he was medically cleared to play. Perhaps his oxycodone drugs were no longer being acquired through perscription. There are many things we will never know.

Jess Rubenstein said...

Actually Brooks is still in the wrong for writing about it since he is not family then he still violates HIPPA.

Even though the family disclosed this (which based on the ME's report would be impossible not to), Boogaard still falls under the US Federal Privacy since he was living in the US at time of his death.

Yes there are way too many unanswered questions that we will most likely never find know the answer to