Jack Jablonski, the 16-year-old high school hockey player who severely injured his spinal cord during a game on Dec. 30, has received a shower of support and visits from famous hockey stars since his traumatic accident.
Jablonski has been named Perani's Hockey World National Player of the Week for the first week of January 2012. JuniorHockey.com reports Jablonski has inspired the hockey world with his remarkable recovery.
While doctors claimed that Jablonski would never walk again, he has made great strides in recovery. Eight days since the game, Jablonski has moved his arms, can flex his left elbow and can move his right arm away from his body, all movements doctors initially did not think he would be able to do following the accident.
Jack was able to move his arms, his mother, Leslie, told Fox 9. That really isn't possible.
The Minneapolis teenager collapsed on the hockey ring two weeks ago after two opposing high school players slammed him into boards during a hockey game. The hockey forward suffered severe bruising to his spinal cord after scoring his first and only goal for his junior varsity team.
Despite the severity of his injuries, the honor student has been able to keep his spirits high.
Alright, when can I strap up my skates? Jablonski allegedly asked his mother after moving his arms KAAL-TV reports.
Jablonski's team, the Benilde - St. Margaret Varisty hockey team, played their first game on Saturday since his injuries in late December. The team held a moment of silence for the 16-year-old and Jablonski's younger brother stood on the ice wearing his brother's jersey.
It's really amazing to see how a tragedy can bring a hockey community together. The outpouring of support, caring, and donations are something rarely found anymore. Perani's wishes Jake and the whole Jablonski family our best wishes to a speedy recovery and will keep their family in our prayers. We (the hockey community) are like one big family and it's nice to see people come together to support others, said a Perani's spokesman.
Jablonski has also received visits and phone calls from many famous hockey stars. Patch reports that hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky called the young hockey player. Dan Brooks, the son of legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks, visited the 16-year-old as well. Brooks brought his father's 1980 men's Olympic hockey team medal to show Jablonski. Former Minnesota North Stars coach and general manager Lou Nanne also paid Jablonski a visit.
In addition, more than 375,000 people have visited the CaringBridge website, where Jablonski's family has posted updates on the hockey player's recovery. #Jabs has been a trending topic on Twitter as friends, family and fans across the country pledge support to the young player. The Minnesota Golden Gophers men's hockey team has also been raising money for the honor student.
He's got a tremendous amount of recuperative abilities because of his young age, Dr. Galicich told the StarTribune. He's a terrific kid, and obviously he and his family are devastated by this tragedy.
The former high school hockey player's serious injuries will require support for months as he learns to live with his injuries. He has had two surgeries in the past week to correct an artery in his neck to prevent a stroke and to fuse his fifth and sixth vertebrae together in a serious spinal surgery.
It's a parent's worst nightmare. He dropped and didn't move. Right then and there I knew that my son, that there was something seriously wrong. It was a very hard hit, Mike Jablonski told the Star Tribune.
Leslie Jablonski, however, told Fox 9 that she does not blame the Wayzata players involved in the injury and holds no ill will towards them. She worries about how they are coping with the accident and claims they have checked in frequently on her son.
Nonetheless, Jablonski's injuries have provoked outrage and requests that the level of physical contact in youth hockey games be reduced.
This is one of the reasons why USA Hockey legislated checking out of peewee hockey, said Lou Nanne, a former NHL player and general manager considered by many to be the dean of Minnesota hockey, told the Star Tribune. For all those people who wonder why, now you know why.''
Jablonski is facing a long recovery that many believe could have been avoided if stricter rules were enforced in youth hockey. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that body checking be banned under the age of 15, but in Minnesota it is allowed above the age of 12.
The checking seems to be a hot issue. This can be avoided. In two seconds, our lives just changed. All of our lives changed, Jablonski's mother, Leslie, told the Star Tribune. 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.
U.S. emergency room visits for ice hockey-related injuries for teens 14 to 19 rose from 2,935 in 1990 to 7,713 in 2006. Although hockey-related injuries can occur from a number of incidents, there has been increased encouragement for young players to be aggressive on the ice.
There's a big difference between hitting and checking, and there is more malicious hitting going on in the last year, said Keith Hendrickson, an amateur scout for the Buffalo Sabres NHL team, told the Star Tribune. Nobody condones it, but all I hear from coaches is, 'Body! Body! Body!'''