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Derek Boogaard’s parents pick NHLPA as first target

There will likely be more legal action by the parents of Derek Boogaard in the wake of their lawsuit against the National Hockey League Players' Association.

Boogaard died in May of 2011 at 28 from an accidental overdose of prescription painkillers and alcohol. His parents, Len and Joanne, filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles last Friday seeking $9.8-million (all currency U.S.) from the NHLPA for the remainder of Derek's NHL contract, plus punitive damages because they say the union allegedly failed to file a grievance in time to collect the final three years of salary on their son's contract, a total of $4.8-million, from the New York Rangers.

Joanne indicated Sunday the family is still in the process of thinking through the circumstances around their son's death. When asked if this means more lawsuits will be filed, she declined further comment.

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"For now it's still no comment until we figure things out," she said. "It's been a tough time. [Derek's death] never should have happened."

NHLPA spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said the union received a copy of the lawsuit on Sunday. He said there would be no further comment. On Friday, the union said in a statement, "We are saddened to read reports that the parents of the late Derek Boogaard have filed a lawsuit against the NHLPA. ... We are confident that there is no meritorious claim that can be made against the NHLPA in regard to Derek's tragic death."

Derek's father Len is a career officer with the RCMP who spent a year investigating his son's death. He shared his findings with The New York Times and the story raised a number of questions about the care Derek received from the Rangers, the Minnesota Wild and their doctors and dentists and about the treatment he received for his substance-abuse problems.

Derek spent six years with the Wild and Rangers as one of the NHL's most-feared fighters. He scored three goals during his career and had 589 minutes in penalties. Boogaard was one of three NHL enforcers to die accidentally or by his own hand in 2011. The others were Wade Belak of the Nashville Predators, who died accidentally, and Rick Rypien of the Winnipeg Jets, who committed suicide.

After his death, researchers at Boston University discovered Derek had chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). It is a brain disease caused by repeated blows to the head and has been found in several deceased NHL enforcers, including Reggie Fleming and Bob Probert. Like Derek, Probert also struggled with substance abuse.

"Derek was an addict but why was he an addict?" Len told The New York Times after he finished his investigation into his son's death. "Everyone said he had 'off-ice issues.' No, it was hockey."

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More


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