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.)
Reviewed on: 06/23/2014 Release date: 10/01/2014 Genre: Nonfiction
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.