The hockey community has a way of setting aside all differences when one of our own is in need. Jack Jablonski, 16, from Minneapolis, suffered spinal cord injuries during a junior-varsity game on Friday.
The Minnesota high school player who was left paralyzed will never be able to walk again.
The player's family reported on Wednesday that doctors have told them, "He will not be able to walk or skate again."
"This news is devastating to Jack and everyone who loves him," the Jablonski family posted on their CaringBridge website for the Benilde-St Margaret's sophomore.
"Our hope and dream is that he will be able to prove this prognosis wrong. Our priority is to help Jack accept and transition into his new life, a life that we did not plan, but one that we have to embrace," the family added.
Early Tuesday doctors fused two fractured vertebrae in Jack's neck in the hope that it would enable some movement in his body, and though the procedure went 'very well', his family said it also confirmed the extent of his injuries.
Jack collapsed on the ice at the game on Friday after two Wayzata players checked him from behind into the boards.
His father Mike Jablonski told the Star Tribune: "It's a parent's worst nightmare. He dropped and didn't move. Right then and there I knew that there was something seriously wrong with my son. It was a very hard hit."
Wayzata junior varsity coach Duke Johnson told the Star Tribune that the player who hit Jack from behind was distraught.
"He's very upset. On Monday at practice he was doing a little better because enough guys have told him, "You weren't trying to hurt him."
On Monday, Jack's parents discussed how their son, loved hockey and would find some way to contribute, whether back on the ice or as an advocate for player safety.
His mother Leslie told the Star Tribune, "The checking seems to be a hot issue. This can be avoided. In two seconds, our lives just changed. All of our lives changed."
"We just want to make sure this doesn't happen again. And if they keep playing the game the way it is, there's going to be more attacks in situations like this."
In November a teenage hockey player was killed by a flying puck during a game in Edmonton. Kyle Fundytus, 16, was struck on the neck during the freak accident when he was trying to block a shot. He died later in hospital.
Trying to remove checking from hockey would make as much sense as taking the tackle out of football or the over-hand pitch from baseball. It's part of the game. I understand the overwhelming pain that the family must be going through, and have rewritten this paragraph a number of times, but a knee-jerk reaction is not going to reverse history and erase the incident.
There is a high degree of risk involved with just about every sport, and especially contact sports. But the fact is that we are more likely to be killed in a car accident than we are of suffering a catastrophic injury like Jack's.
When the time is right, I'd like to offer Jack the opportunity to remain very active in the game. I think that he could bring a very fresh perspective to the JuniorHockey.com family, and I know all of you would be very happy to see him join us.
My family has added the Jablonski family to our prayers and we are asking for you to do the same.
Financial SupportAn account has been established at Wells Fargo Bank, the JACK JABLONSKI FUND. If you wish to donate something towards Jack's future needs, you can send your donations to:
Jack Jablonski Fund
P.O. Box 16387
St. Louis Park, MN 55416-2618
You may also make your donations at any Wells Fargo Bank. Please mention "Jack Jablonski Fund."