First we find out that Harmon Killebrew is ending his fight to survive esophageal cancer, then we find out that 28-year-old NHL player Derek Boogaard was found dead last night in his Minneapolis apartment.
A few hours ago I posted this on Facebook:
Though we don’t know yet, what would surprise me least would be to learn that Boogard’s death was a suicide, and that a brain study later uncovers traumatic encephalopathy. He missed more than 50 games with the Rangers this year, partly because of concussion…
Looks like columnist Nick Coleman is having similar thoughts.
When Bob Probert, a notorious enforcer for the Red Wings who often had to be hospitalized for infections in his hands that resulted from tearing them open on the helmets of other players, died, he left his brain to science: It was a brain wrecked by fighting, and, if you have been paying attention, you’ll know that Probert’s Brain has begun a debate that is likely to finally end the role of the hockey enforcer.
In that decision, Derek Boogaard may turn out to contribute to hockey more in death than he did in life.
Coleman points to this video (see below), which turned out to be the last fight of Boogaard’s career as a “hockey enforcer.”
This video, as much as anything I have ever seen, encapsulates why I have never become a hockey fan. It’s like a street brawl masquerading as a sporting event. Even the casual commentary about who landed what blow just drives home the point for me. This game is not for me.
Again, no one knows what happened to Boogaard. Could be an accident, could be natural causes, there are no answers yet. But who would be shocked to find to that this kid is another example of a brain turned to mush through violent sport?
Late addition, Sunday May 15 2011. It looks like the Boogaard family might itself be wondering whether his death has something to do with traumatic brain injury. From ESPN.com:
The Minneapolis StarTribune reported on its website Saturday night that Boogaard’s family has agreed to donate his brain to Boston University researchers who are studying brain disease in athletes.