A decade after his own loss, Len Boogaard feels sadness and anger over the death of Jimmy Hayes – .

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A decade after his own loss, Len Boogaard feels sadness and anger over the death of Jimmy Hayes – .


Len Boogaard felt sadness and anger when he learned Sunday that former National Hockey League player Jimmy Hayes was struggling with pain reliever addiction before he died in August of fentanyl and cocaine. in his system.

It’s been 10 years since Boogaard buried his son, Derek, a former NHL henchman who died in May 2011. Derek died mixing alcohol and the powerful pain reliever oxycodone.

“Not a day goes by that I don’t think of Derek, the eccentric smile he had where he sat and looked at you and then laughed,” Boogaard said in an interview with TSN.

It was with Derek’s memory in mind that Boogaard said he read a Boston Globe column by Dan Shaughnessy on Sunday quoting Jimmy Hayes’ father Kevin as saying he confronted his son with his addiction to pain medication. Last year.

“I went to see him and I said, ‘I think there might be a problem here with the pills,’” Hayes told Shaughnessy. “He had been injured for a while, and I think he started taking painkillers and they catch you… He called me three weeks later and said, ‘Daddy, I’m addicted. to these pills. I hurt myself and started taking them and never got off. And I said, ‘Well, let’s go help you.’ He went to a place in Haverhill (MA). So he got help and it was all on the road to recovery, I thought. But this [expletive] is so powerful. “

Jimmy Hayes grew up in Dorchester, a Boston neighborhood, won an NCAA Championship while playing for Boston College in 2010, and continued to play for the Bruins after being drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the second round of the 2008 NHL Draft. He played seven NHL seasons for Chicago, Florida, Boston and New Jersey, scoring 54 goals in 334 games. He last played professionally in the American Hockey League in 2019.

Jimmy started using pain relievers on a regular basis early in his NHL career, a person familiar with the matter said.

Boogaard said Hayes’ words about his son’s struggle with addiction sounded incredibly familiar.

During a six-year NHL career before his death in 2011, Derek suffered numerous concussions, was sent to rehab twice, and received copious amounts of medication. In his last two years in the NHL, doctors from seven teams gave him 13 injections of Toradol. In the 2008-09 season alone, he was prescribed 1,021 tablets from a dozen different doctors, according to his medical records.

“How many players have to die before the NHL recognizes there’s a problem? said Boogaard. “Ten years ago, with Derek, I argued that it was a learning experience for everyone, so Derek wouldn’t die in vain. Well, we keep going through the same thing. After me, it was Steve Montador’s father. And now it’s Jimmy’s dad who says he wants to bring this to everyone’s attention, so it doesn’t happen to everyone. I guess it will take more players who die, maybe three or four in a row, or maybe more, for the NHL to do something.

“Maybe it has to happen again, God forbid. I know it sounds so hard… ”

Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak passed away over the span of several months in the spring and summer of 2011. And while the time seemed right for the NHL to reflect on the fighting in the game, the brain damage and To the use of painkillers by players, Boogaard said any discussion of these topics by the NHL was purely superficial.

“Right off the bat, the NHL pointed it out at Derek and said he did that to himself,” said Boogaard. “The NHL had no interest in knowing the truth. In fact, the NHL, its teams and its doctors have done everything to prevent me from finding out the truth. … All I wanted was to find out the truth about what had happened with my son.

Boogaard said he learned of the circumstances of Jimmy Hayes’ death via an email from Steve Montador’s father, Paul.

Steve Montador was 35 when he died on February 15, 2015. Paul alleges his son suffered at least 11 documented NHL concussions, including four in 12 weeks in 2012. In August, a federal court judge American ruled Paul could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL in Illinois state court for claiming the league distorted the dangers of repeated brain damage while promoting and enjoying a culture of violence. He has not yet filed a subsequent complaint.

Montador played 571 games in the NHL over a 14-year professional career that included stints with the Flames, Panthers, Ducks, Bruins, Sabers and Blackhawks.

Boogaard also filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the NHL. The case was appealed to the United States Supreme Court before being dismissed in December 2018. A trial judge ruled that a lawsuit for wrongful death and survivors should have been brought by a court appointed trustee, not Derek’s parents.

Boogaard said he doesn’t regret facing the NHL, and he said he hopes Kevin Hayes also demands accountability and details from the league on his own son’s death.

“My fight in some ways has raised awareness of what’s going on,” Boogaard said. “The league did not get away without a scot. There was a public relations cost. And for Jimmy’s father, don’t let go. Continue to be vocal. Continue to defend your son. Keep calling the NHL. It is not an easy road. “

Boogaard said he spent years asking state and provincial medical regulators for his son’s records.

“I encountered obstacle after obstacle, roadblock after roadblock,” he said. “In the end, we got what we needed to show what was going on, to prove what had happened with Derek. “

Boogaard said Derek’s medical records establish that he incurred no fines, penalties or other penalties after repeatedly violating the terms of an agreement he signed after being released in 2010 from a facility. drug and alcohol drug rehab, and that his repeated violations included a positive opioid test. and stimulant drugs, admitting to illegal drug purchases and missing randomly scheduled drug tests.

The issue of pain relievers has remained relevant in the NHL.

In December 2020, in TSN’s documentary “The Problem of Pain,” former NHL players Ryan Kesler, Kyle Quincey and Zenon Konopka said they were regularly given pain relievers and the anti-inflammatory drug Toradol during their playing career by the doctors and coaches of the team. All three players said they were never made aware of the potential long-term consequences of repeated use.

In the same story, 17 NHL players told TSN that they had used Toradol for more than five days in a row, which is the maximum recommended.

Still, NHL and NHLPA officials have said the parties have stepped up their drug testing program in the 10 years since Derek’s death.

In 2016, the NHL and NHLPA first agreed to screen samples from all doping-tested players for recreational drugs amid concerns over an increase in the number of players testing positive for cocaine.

“Is the program much better now than it was 10 years ago?” Said Boogaard. “Tell that to the Hayes family. “

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