The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's office has released its findings on the death of Derek Boogaard, listing the cause of death as mixed alcohol and oxycodone toxicity.
The office also ruled the manner of death as accidental.
To see the examiner's press release, click here.
Unfortunately, as many hypothesized, Boogaard's death was related to taking medication for pain -- the oxycodone. Warnings of the drug explicitly state not to mix oxycodone with alcohol, which could cause severe injury or death. It is also listed as a very addictive drug, a narcotic pain reliever similar to morphine.
Boogaard's family issued this following statement through the National Hockey League Players’ Association:
“We would like to express our appreciation for the outpouring of love and support for our family during this difficult period as we grieve the loss of Derek – our son and brother. We are deeply saddened by this unimaginable loss, but we are grateful for the expression of support that has given us strength as we go through this tragic time.
It is very comforting for our family to know that, while Derek’s life was far too short, he had a great impact on many people who he came into contact with. We are proud that Derek was able to live his boyhood dream to play in the National Hockey League. We are even more proud of the fact that Derek was dedicated to making a difference in his adopted communities of Minnesota and New York City, through his countless hours of charitable work.
Earlier today, we received the results of Derek's toxicology report at the time of his accidental death. After repeated courageous attempts at rehabilitation and with the full support of the New York Rangers, the NHLPA, and the NHL, Derek had been showing tremendous improvement but was ultimately unable to beat this opponent. While he played and lived with pain for many years, his passion for the game, his teammates, and his community work was unstoppable.
Our family would like to like to thank the New York Rangers, the Minnesota Wild, the National Hockey League Players’ Association, and the National Hockey League for supporting Derek's continued efforts in his battle.
Derek will be greatly missed and will never be forgotten by his fans, friends, and teammates, and especially by us – his family. We respectfully ask for continued privacy as we grieve the loss of Derek.”
The Predators' Jordan Tootoo tweeted out his condolences on Friday, saying "Thoughts and Prayers going out to the Boogaard family from the Tootoo family. We understand the pain."
Last week, the New York Post reported Boogaard was receiving counseling in the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse & Behavioral Health Program in the weeks prior to his death.
Since his sudden death on May 13, Boogaard's family decided to donate his brain to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy to help study the effects of hits to the head in sports. The Rangers enforcer missed the majority of his first season in New York because of a concussion.
Earlier this year, Boston University revealed former enforcer Bob Probert suffered from the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Probert died of a heart attack last July at age 45. Reggie Fleming, a 1960s enforcer who played before helmets became mandatory, also had CTE.
Originally drafted by the Wild, Minnesota fans held a memorial service for Boogaard last Sunday at Xcel Energy Center. Family, friends and former teammates turned out, and remembered Boogaard as a rough-and-tumble guy on the rink, but a gentle giant when he wasn't on the ice.
"He exuded this aura about him that made people want to be around him," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said Sunday. "He just brought smiles to everyone's faces all the time."
The funeral for Boogaard is scheduled for Saturday in Regina, Saskatchewan.
Needless to say, no matter how the story ended, it was going to be sad. There is no good way for it to end.
-- Brian Stubits
-- The Associated Press contributed to this report