$9.8M Demand for Death of NHL’s Boogaard

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – Derek Boogaard’s grieving parents say in court that they should have been able to collect the millions left on their late son’s contract with the New York Rangers.
     Since his death from an overdose on drugs and alcohol in May 2011, Boogaard has become the poster child for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a kind of dementia commonly diagnosed in individuals who have sustained repeated concussions.
     With more than 250 pounds on his 6-foot-7 frame, Boogaard was a hockey enforcer celebrated more for his fighting skills than his skating ability.
     By the time Boogaard had signed a $6.5 million, four-year contract with the New York Rangers in July 2010, the Canadian-born athlete already had a powerful addiction to narcotics and sleeping pills, prescribed by team doctors to treat the “numerous blows to the head” that came with the job, according to the complaint filed by his parents, Len and Joanne Boogaard, in Superior Court.
     The 28-year-old died in his Minneapolis apartment on May 12, 2011. By this time, friends and family had reportedly noticed a dramatic change in Boogaard’s once sweet and easy manner. A New York Times series titled “Punched Out,” released in December 2011, describes how Boogaard had become sullen, manic and lonely, plagued by constant headaches and memory lapses.
     After his death, Roman Stoykewych, the head labor attorney for the National Hockey League Players Union, allegedly advised Boogaard’s parents about the compensation they could expect from their son’s Rangers contract.
     “That on July 27, 2011 defendant Stoykewych knowing that the New York Rangers and the Minnesota Wild had previously prescribed narcotics to Derek Boogaard knowing the cause of death; and knowing that the New York Rangers would not be paying anything further on the player’s SPC [standard player contract] wrote to William Daily, deputy commissioner of the NHL, and demanded documentation including medical records to be used in a grievance to enforce payment under the SPC if necessary,” his parents claim.
     After the league allegedly delayed release of Boogaard’s medical records, Stoykewych promised that he would take “legal action” to secure compensation for the parents, according to the 13-page complaint.
     But the Boogaards say that the Rangers still had not paid up by the start of the 2011-12 NHL season.
     Eventually, the couple allegedly learned that pay disputes with a club must go through a grievance procedure. Only the NHL or the players union can file such grievances, however, and they must be filed within 60 days, according to the complaint.
     “At no time prior to the expiration of the sixty day period did Roman Stoykewych request that the NHLPA or did the NHLPA file a grievance on behalf of the plaintiffs and against the New York Rangers for failure to pay Derek Boogard’s salary for the 2011-2012 season and beyond, or any other grievance on behalf of the plaintiffs,” the Boogards say, abbreviating the National Hockey League Players Association.
     Because of the union’s delay, the Boogaards say they missed out on the $4.8 million left in their late son’s contract with the Rangers.
     In addition to that sum, they seek $5 million in punitive damages from the National Hockey League Players Association and Stoykewych. The complaint alleges breach of duty of fair dealing, breach of implied contract and breach of fiduciary duty.
     Beverly Hills attorney Howard Silber represents the couple.
     The NHLPA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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