According to Larry Brooks, Derek Boogaard was involved in the NHL’s Substance Abuse & Behavorial Health Program in the weeks prior to his death. Though he doesn’t specify the reasons for it, there are multiple reasons a player might enter it. Nashville’s Jordin Tootoo entered the program earlier this year to deal with his alcohol problem, and former Ranger Sandis Ozolinsh did the same for his alcohol issues a while back. Players may also enter for drug-related problems, whether recreational ones such as cocaine or marijuana or for performance enhancing ones such as steroids. Or, players may enter for mental issues, such as depression or anything else.
I am not inferring that his reason for dying was related to any issues he might have been having. I am simply just providing information. Boogaard was sent home late in the season and the Rangers refused to even hint at the reason for it. Turns out Boogaard asked to go home so that he could deal with whatever issues he was having. This also might explain the “lack of conditioning” that Tortorella had complained about. Boogaard was supposedly working extremely hard in his practice sessions to get himself into shape and he planned on training with former NHL enforcer Georges Laraque during the offseason to get ready for the 2011-2012 season.
Brooks also quotes Callahan, who applauds Boogaard for how he acted around the team while struggling with his problems.” A lot of guys going through that kind of a year would have complained and had a negative impact, but Boogey showed up with a smile every day and was supportive and a great teammate,” said Callahan.
Again, I want to stress that I am not linking this to his death. And neither should you.