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Punched Out: The Life and Death of a Hockey Enforcer

The story of Derek Boogaard, an NHL hockey player who died at 28 of an accidental drug and alcohol overdose, compounded with chronic skull fractures incurred on the ice.

In 2011, Derek Boogaard was found dead in his hotel room by his brother Aaron. He was only 28 years old. An autopsy revealed he had consumed vast quantities of alcohol and painkillers and had suffered from a degenerative brain condition known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). How could this have happened? New York Times reporter Shayla Harris reconstructs the life story of this giant of a hockey player, who was affectionately known as “The Bogeyman” and “The Mountie,” the latter because his father was on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Boogaard grew from a quiet, insecure boy into one of the most feared players in the NHL. He played the unofficial position of enforcer, the one whose goal is to get the game in his team’s favor at whatever cost. This translates to looking for duels, dealing out body checks, and even coming to blows. In her web documentary, Harris reveals ice hockey for the combat sport it is. Boogaard wasn’t really on the ice to score, but to delve out punches and to win dirty – with all the repercussions (and concussions) this had for his head. Punched Out is a critical journalistic piece that utilizes the principles of hearing both sides and has Harris using the Internet to release her source material. In this sports documentary, the American dream would seem to be gradually becoming a nightmare.

Project details

Year of development :2011
Created by:Shayla Harris
With:Marcus Yam, Josh Williams, John Branch
Full project credits

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