BOSTON (AP) – Derek Boogaard’s family has donated his brain to researchers who will check for damage that might have resulted from his career as an NHL enforcer.
Boogaard’s agent and a spokeswoman for the Boston University School of Medicine confirmed Sunday that Boogaard’s family made the donation. Researchers at the medical school have set up a brain bank to check athletes for degenerative brain disease caused by repeated concussions.
Ron Salcer, Boogaard’s agent, said the player was approached by researchers because he played with a similar style to Bob Probert, who died last year at the age of 45. Researchers at the BU Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy found evidence in Probert’s brain of the degenerative brain disease, which is associated with cognitive and behavioral problems and eventually causes dementia.
Boogaard missed the last half of last season with the New York Rangers while recovering from a concussion. There is no evidence yet that the injury contributed to his death, but the Star Tribune of Minneapolis first reported that his family asked the BU center to look into it.
“It’s an amazing thing he did and his family did. Hopefully that’ll bring some information,” Salcer told The Associated Press. “We don’t know exactly the impact that the concussions might have played.”
The hockey player was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment Friday. Police said there were no outward signs of trauma. Results of an autopsy are expected to take several weeks.
The Wild planned a memorial at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on Sunday night to honor Boogaard, who was a fan favorite while playing for the team from 2005-10.
AP National Writer Nancy Armour and Associated Press Writer Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)