Behind Derek Boogaard's Downfall, Tons of Pills

Team doctors prescribed him huge amount of hydrocodone, oxycodone
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 4, 2012 10:13 AM CDT
In this Nov. 4, 2010, file photo, Philadelphia Flyers' Jody Shelley, left, and New York Rangers' Derek Boogaard fight during an NHL hockey game in Philadelphia.r.   (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

(Newser) – As if Derek Boogaard's death at 28 last year wasn't tragic enough, the New York Times today delves into the reality that preceded the NHL enforcer's accidental overdose—and it's a mind-bogglingly pill-filled one. Boogaard's father, a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, gave the paper access to the prescription-drug history he has compiled, which outlines the pills his son was given before and after joining the NHL's substance-abuse program in 2009. The lowlights:

  • Between October 2008 and April 2009, Boogaard got at least 25 prescriptions for a total of 622 hydrocodone and oxycodone pills from 10 doctors, eight of which worked for the Minnesota Wild.

  • The New York Rangers were made aware of Boogaard's substance abuse issues, but a dentist wrote him five hydrocodone prescriptions, and a team doctor wrote him 10 Ambien prescriptions.
  • During his single season with the Rangers, he tested positive for everything from decongestants to Xanax to hydrocodone on more than a dozen of the 19 drug tests he was given.
  • In a number of cases, Boogaard got prescriptions after texting a team doctor's phone.
  • The exhaustive record compiled by Boogaard's father included everything from hundreds of pages of phone records to ATM records to pharmacy records—but the medical records he was given were incomplete.
  • Len Boogaard believes that the documents show that though his son had a drug habit, the abuse didn't begin until after Oct. 16, 2008, when he was given hydrocodone after losing a tooth; in the next 33 days, he was given at least 195 of the pills from six doctors. He didn't receive that many painkillers in his first three seasons combined.
  • Says Len, "Derek was an addict. But why was he an addict? Everyone said he had 'off-ice' issues. No, it was hockey."
  • In fairness, the Times notes that the records only tell one side of the story: They don't indicate whether the doctors were aware of other doctors' prescriptions, or how much Boogaard may have lied to get them.
Click for many, many more details about his prescriptions. (Read more NHL stories.)

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