Rangers bruiser Derek Boogaard: Cause of death remains unknown

Derek Boogaard was known as an enforcer on the ice.

The shocking death of New York Rangers tough guy Derek Boogaard may remain a mystery for weeks, authorities said.

The 28-year-old Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment on Friday, and while foul play was not suspected, it will take several weeks before conclusive autopsy results are available.

A brute on the ice, Boogaard was a fan favorite and his 6-foot-7 frame made him an imposing figure who was considered an enforcer and was no stranger to fisticuffs. He missed most of last season because of a concussion and a shoulder injury suffered in a fight.

Minneapolis police Sgt. William Palmer told the Associated Press that authorities do not suspect foul play at this point, but the police department’s homicide unit and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office are investigating. Palmer said the medical examiner will decide the cause of death.

An autopsy was being conducted Saturday, but county spokeswoman Carol Allis said results probably will not be released for at least two weeks.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune 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.

There have been recent studies that suggest concussions could play a role in athletes’ untimely deaths. Findings released earlier this year by Boston University revealed that 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.

"The news that we have lost someone so young and so strong leaves everyone in the National Hockey League stunned and saddened," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "The NHL family sends its deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Derek Boogaard, to those who played and worked with him and to everyone who enjoyed watching him compete."


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