Fighting in the N.H.L. Reveals Few, if Any, Winners

Ten years in the past this month, a well-liked Rangers enforcer, thought of by some to be the hardest man and the most fearsome fighter in the N.H.L., died alone in his residence from an unintentional overdose of painkillers and alcohol.

That man, Derek Boogaard, 28, was later decided to have a extreme case of persistent traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative mind illness brought on by repeated blows to the head.

Boogaard’s loss of life got here lower than a yr after that of Bob Probert, a beloved roughneck of the Detroit Red Wings. The checklist of gamers who died earlier than age 50 and had been later discovered with C.T.E. grew shortly: Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, Steve Montador and Todd Ewen amongst them. Untold N.H.L. survivors disappear into center age to battle their demons alone.

When the puck and the gloves dropped and the fists started flying at the begin of Wednesday evening’s recreation between the Rangers and the Washington Capitals, hockey managed to get itself observed once more, for all the acquainted causes.

It was an old-school spectacle greeted with scattered bits of disgust, nostalgia and pleasure. Vigilante justice is a part of hockey’s historical past, and N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman has by no means appeared in eradicating it from the recreation. A needed “thermostat,” he has known as it.

Wednesday’s brawls, in a recreation that featured 141 penalty minutes, had been sparked two nights earlier by a pair of ugly acts of violence that the N.H.L. addressed with a $5,000 superb towards a Capitals participant.

The Rangers issued a harsh protest on Tuesday, and on Thursday they had been fined $250,000 for “demeaning” a league executive in charge of player safety. In hockey, apparently, you get $5,000 for roughing, but $250,000 for demeaning.

There are two ways to look at it. First is what it says about the game and its priorities. The other is to worry for Tom Wilson, the instigator in this episode, playing a role that hockey reveres but that does not often end well.

“You’d think that we would have learned, or someone would have learned,” Len Boogaard, Derek’s father, said from his home in Nova Scotia. “It’s an affront to what we’ve endured over the years.”

Jody Boogaard, Len’s wife and Derek’s stepmother, said that the Boogaards were among those who regrettably pushed their children into the violent aspects of hockey, not fully aware of the long-term ramifications.

“What boggles my mind now is that everybody knows better,” she said.

Len and Jody Boogaard occasionally attend junior games in a mid-level league with players between the ages of 18 and 20 in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. At a recent game, a fight broke out. Officials stood back as the boys traded blow after blow, the Boogaards said.

The Yarmouth player eventually came off the ice, his face visibly red and welted, Len Boogaard said. Fans stood and cheered.

“I think Len and I were the only people in the arena who were thoroughly disgusted,” Jody Boogaard said.

The Boogaards did not see Wednesday’s melee at the arena where their son used to play. They stopped watching the N.H.L. 10 years ago this month.

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