Cover image for Boy on ice : the life and death of Derek Boogaard
Boy on ice : the life and death of Derek Boogaard
Branch, John (Sports reporter), author.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2014]
Physical Description:
371 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
The "death of hockey star Derek Boogaard at twenty-eight was front-page news across the country in 2011 and helped shatter the silence about violence and concussions in professional sports. Now, in a ... work of narrative nonfiction, ... reporter John Branch tells the ... story of Boogaard's life and heartbreaking death"
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library GV848.5.B669 B73 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
Clearfield Library GV848.5.B669 B73 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Orchard Park Library GV848.5.B669 B73 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Kenmore Library GV848.5.B669 B73 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



The tragic death of hockey star Derek Boogaard at twenty-eight was front-page news across the country in 2011 and helped shatter the silence about violence and concussions in professional sports. Now, in a gripping work of narrative nonfiction, acclaimed reporter John Branch tells the shocking story of Boogaard's life and heartbreaking death.Boy on Ice is the richly told story of a mountain of a man who made it to the absolute pinnacle of his sport. Widely regarded as the toughest man in the NHL, Boogaard was a gentle man off the ice but a merciless fighter on it. With great narrative drive, Branch recounts Boogaard's unlikely journey from lumbering kid playing pond-hockey on the prairies of Saskatchewan, so big his skates would routinely break beneath his feet; to his teenaged junior hockey days, when one brutal outburst of violence brought Boogaard to the attention of professional scouts; to his days and nights as a star enforcer with the Minnesota Wild and the storied New York Rangers, capable of delivering career-ending punches and intimidating entire teams. But, as Branch reveals, behind the scenes Boogaard's injuries and concussions were mounting and his mental state was deteriorating, culminating in his early death from an overdose of alcohol and painkillers.Based on months of investigation and hundreds of interviews with Boogaard's family, friends, teammates, and coaches, Boy on Ice is a brilliant work for fans of Michael Lewis's The Blind Side or Buzz Bissinger's Friday Night Lights. This is a book that raises deep and disturbing questions about the systemic brutality of contact sports--from peewees to professionals--and the damage that reaches far beyond the game.* A 2014 Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In hockey, the enforcer is an unofficial role usually held by players with size and fighting ability but not necessarily great hockey skills. From a young age, Derek Boogaard, known as The Boogeyman, found his place on the ice as the protector of his team and the intimidator of opposing players. Ultimately, injuries sustained from repeated fighting led to his addiction to painkillers and tragic death from an overdose at age 28. Branch, a Pulitzer-winning journalist, examines Boogaard's stunningly violent on-ice career in blow-by-blow detail, from his beginnings in Saskatchewan to his rise with the NHL's Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers. Autopsy reports showed that Derek also suffered from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition often associated with football players and boxers that has become a recent focus of sports-safety advocates. Known as a gentle giant when outside the rink, Derek lived a conflicted and painful life, the facts of which will certainly add to the debate on the ramifications and necessity of institutional fighting in hockey and the debilitating effects of repeated head injuries in all professional sports.--Clark, Craig Copyright 2014 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

New York Times reporter Branch's chronicle of Derek Boogaard's winning but ultimately tragic life as hockey's greatest enforcer is as tense and exciting as a hockey game. Branch follows Boogaard from his earliest days in the rinks as a member of the Regina Pats to his days with the Minnesota Wild and eventually to the New York Rangers. Boogaard, he points out, was never the most talented player on his minor hockey teams, but that he was a "big obstacle planted in front of the goal to gum up the opponent's offense." As his career took off, Boogaard accepted his role as enforcer, and Branch brings to life the highlights of his biggest fights, including his bout against Todd Fedoruk, which effectively ended Fedoruk's career. Boogaard's kindness and compassion off the ice contrasts with his on-ice persona, and the many fights and the painkillers begin to take their toll. Branch captures the sorrow and anguish of a young athlete's career collapsing due to the combination of drugs and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)-a kind of dementia that causes memory loss and emotional instability (sufferers are referred to as "punch drunks")-and asks piercing questions about violence in sports. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Review

Starred Review. There is no question that hockey is a beautiful sport to watch and an exhilarating one to play. Its practitioners accomplish their feats at lightning quick speeds while under heavy duress from their opponents' potential body checks and stick work. However, the sport has often been cast in the dark shadow of the existence and acceptance of fighting. In this debut book, journalist Branch examines the life and death of one noted hockey pugilist whose job-he argues-led to chronic and traumatic brain damage as a result of numerous concussions, prescription drug abuse, and ultimately, his death. It traces Derek Boogaard's humble beginnings playing minor hockey in frigid arenas in small towns in Saskatchewan to his life as a National Hockey League enforcer, plying his trade in modern day ice palaces as thousands of fans chanted his name. Branch tells a tale of Faustian proportion, describing a young man who desperately wanted to play hockey professionally, but whose only means to accomplish this were through using his great size (he was 6'7" without skates) and his fists. VERDICT A heartbreaking examination of a young man's life destroyed by the sport he loved. Highly recommended.-Brian Renvall, Mesalands Community Coll., Tucumcari, NM (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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