NHL Sued Over Derek Boogaard's Overdose Death
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Two years after the death of New York Rangers player Derek Boogaard from an accidental overdose, his family is suing the National Hockey League for enabling his addiction to prescription drugs. They claim the NHL failed to keep the 6 foot 7, 265-pound enforcer "reasonably safe" while he played for them, allowing him to be injected with Toradol (an intramuscular analgesic) and giving him “copious amounts” of prescription pain medications and sleeping pills. “The NHL drafted Derek Boogaard because it wanted his massive body to fight in order to enhance ratings, earnings and exposure," said his family's lawyer, William T. Gibbs, in a statement. "Fighting night after night took its expected toll on Derek's body and mind. To deal with the pain, he turned to team doctors, who dispensed pain pills like candy." In one season, NHL medical personnel allegedly prescribed the player over 1,000 pills. He was twice admitted to rehab for opioid addiction before fatally overdosing on a combination of alcohol and oxycodone in May 2011, at age 28. After his death, Boogaard was found to have suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a form of brain damage "caused by repeated blows to his head during his hockey career," according the lawsuit. His mother Joanne said in the statement, "He was there protecting his teammates at all costs, but who was there to protect him?"