Brain of Dead Hockey Player Was 'Going Bad'

Derek Boogaard likely faced early dementia
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 5, 2011 7:11 PM CST

Hockey enforcer Derek Boogaard died of a drug and alcohol overdose at age 28—but his future likely wouldn't have been too bright had he lived, because he probably faced midlife dementia. In the last of a three-part series on Boogaard, the New York Times reveals that the multi-millionaire bruiser suffered from advanced brain damage when he was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment. “To see this amount? That’s a ‘wow’ moment,” said one doctor, pointing at Boogaard's brain tissue. “This is all going bad.”

The Times chronicles Boogaard's eerie loss of personality on the Minnesota Wild and his later descent as a New York Ranger into post-concussion syndrome, depression, and the substance abuse that killed him. His disease, called CTE—or chronic traumatic encephalopathy—has afflicted two former hockey players and more than 20 football players. Still, the NHL denies a link, and fans' love for fighting remains strong. Even Boogaard's brother is trying to revive his career as a hockey enforcer. Says one former player, “They are trading money for brain cells." (More Derek Boogaard stories.)

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