Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard

Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard

by John Branch

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“Shows us, in tender detail, a life consumed by our unholy appetites.”—Steve Almond, New York Times Book Review

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393245967
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/29/2014
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 504,653
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

John Branch is a reporter for the New York Times. His feature article about an avalanche in Washington State, "Snow Fall," won the Pulitzer Prize; he has been featured three times in The Best American Sports Writing; and his first book, Boy on Ice, won the PEN/ESPN Prize for Literary Sports Writing. He lives near San Francisco.

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Boy on Ice: The Life and Death of Derek Boogaard 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
When Derek Boogaard was found dead in his apartment in May 2011, I was shocked. He was a player that I followed as a fan of the Minnesota Wild, his first team, and then as a member of the New York Rangers, since I live in Rangers territory. My first thought was he was another athlete who succumbed to the good life and lived it too well. But then when the true cause of his death was disclosed, it was an even bigger shock. Given that premise, I was very interested to read this book by John Branch to see what really happened to Boogaard and what type of life he led. This was not the typical biography of an athlete, something that Branch states in the book. While it does cover the entire spectrum of Boogaard’s life, it reads much like a novel in which you root for the main character but you just have this sinking feeling that in the end, something bad is going to happen. Two topics that are hot items in sports and the news today, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and addiction to pain killers, are discussed at length in the book, as it was shown that Boogaard was suffering from both. Branch did extensive research to illustrate how much Boogaard was willing to spend and to travel in order to obtain prescriptions for pain killers and sleeping pills. It made for fascinating reading and makes the reader both feel sorry for Boogaard and also angry in why he was not following his rehabilitation treatment and listening to those close to him about this problem. The book also explores the life of a hockey enforcer and what these players go through in order to catch on with professional teams. Branch portrays not only Boogaard, but all players who are this type of specialist, as insecure and always wondering if that next fight that is lost or that next shift that is missed will cost the player his job. There are many facets to this type of player such as the constant hand injuries and the secret codes they speak to one another about when to fight. I also enjoyed reading about life in the Canadian junior leagues, a path many young Canadian players take to achieve their dream of playing in the NHL. If the reader is unfamiliar with these leagues and the lifestyle of these players, the book does a wonderful job of portraying this life. Hockey fans should read this book for not only a description of the ups and downs of Derek’s life but also for the insight into the life of the enforcer. There will be many surprises to be found if one believes that person is merely the tough guy for his team. An excellent book that I enjoyed very much.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago