Derek Boogaard Death Deemed Accidental: Pain Killers, Alcohol Found in System

Franklin SteeleAnalyst IIMay 20, 2011

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 14:  Steve MacIntyre #33 of the Edmonton Oilers fighting with Derek Boogaard #94 of the New York Rangers during a hockey game at Madison Square Garden on November 14, 2010 in New York City.  (Photo by Paul Bereswill/Getty Images)
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images

More sad news on fallen New York Ranger Derek Boogaard.

Boogaard was found dead a week ago in his Minneapolis apartment, with the cause of death being unclear.  That is no longer the case.

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner announced today that Boogaard's death was accidentally caused by a lethal mix of the strong pain killer oxycodone and alcohol.

While the Medical Examiner won't release further details, Boogaard's family made the following statement:

"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."

Boogaard has been on the road to recovery for some time, fighting a quiet battle against an addiction to pain killers that he received easily due to his multiple injuries.

While on the ice, Boogaard was one of the most feared fighters to play the game, as evidenced by his whopping 589 penalty minutes.  His last fight on December 9th was his 70th.  He played a tough game, and rarely backed down from opponents, sticking up for his teammates dutifully.

While off the ice, Boogaard was a charitable and well-liked man, noted for his contributions to charities and frequent visits to Children's Hospital in St. Paul.

Boston University's School of Medicine announced earlier this week that Boogaard's brain will be examined for signs of degeneration often found in athletes who take repeated blows to the head.  The fallout from the examination could be immediate and far reaching.

But for now, fans and family alike continue to morn the loss of a good person who ran into the one opponent he couldn't seem to defeat.  Last weekend, Wild fans held a memorial service for the long-time Minnesota player.

Derek Boogaard's funeral service will be held Saturday in Regina, Saskatchewan.