By: Aj Mansour | KFAN.com
A devastating local sports story has stirred up an all-too-familiar debate that has reached the national ranks today. Last Friday evening, Jack Jablonski, a 16-year old Sophomore at Benilde St. Margarets, suffered a horrific injury during the a Junior Varsity hockey game between Benilde and Wayzata.
Jablonski was checked from behind into the end boards by two Wayzata players and went flying uncontrolled and headfirst into the boards. After being immobilized on the ice, Jablonski was rushed to Hennepin County Medical Center where the Jablonski family's worst nightmares were confirmed. Jack was paralyzed with no feeling in his legs and only slight movement in his hands and fingers.
"It's a parent's worst nightmare," his father, Mike Jablonski, told MnHockeyHub.com. "He dropped and didn't move. Right then and there I knew that my son, that there was something seriously wrong."
Ever since the injury there has been an outpouring of support for Jack. Still immobilized in a halo at HCMC, Jablonski has received personal visits from Minnesota hockey great and KFAN contributor Lou Nanne and as of Wednesday night, his Caring Bridge Journal Site has received over 120,000 visits from friends, family, strangers and even Minnesota Wild Center Mikko Koivu and other NHL stars.
"I wanted to send you a note and let you know the entire Minnesota Wild team has you in our thoughts and prayers," Koivu wrote. "Best of luck and a speedy recovery."
Former Minnesota Gopher standout and Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler also shared a few words with Jablonski.
"I'm very sorry to hear about the injury you sustained while in action," Wheeler said. "Minnesota high school hockey is a small fraternity and from one brother to another, I wish you a speedy recovery."
While Jablonski's injury has mustered up a great deal of support for him and his family, it's also fueled an age-old debate surrounding how the sport of hockey should handle checking from behind and protect players. Jack's injury is only the latest in a string of injuries suffered every year from prep, college and professional hockey players stemming from hits from behind.
Just last week, Minnesota Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon had to be carried off the ice after sustaining a hit from behind from Colorado's Cody McLeod. While McLeod did serve a 5-minute boarding penalty and game misconduct, Spurgeon missed the Wild's next two games with a leg injury while McLeod skated away scott free. These sorts of situations have parents, coaches and hockey advocates up and down the ranks of youth and professional hockey clamoring for a more stern enforcement for hits from behind.
Today, the Minnesota State High School League issued a note to coaches and media outlets around the state of Minnesota urging players and coaches to avoid hits from behind. According to MNHockeyHub.com, the note pleaded players to "keep it clean and hit the brakes when you see the numbers on the back of the jersey."
On the day that Jablonski underwent surgery to repair his severely damaged spinal cord, the debate surrounding illegal hits in hockey went national. Whether it be out East, down South or to the West, support and concern continues to flood in towards Jack and the Jablonski family.
If you are interested in leaving Jack a note or submitting a tribute donation, visit Jack's Caring Bridge Page by CLICKING HERE.
Aj Mansour covers Minnesota Sports for KFAN.com. Feel free to leave comments and questions regarding this post in the space provided below. For Prep Sports updates and breaking Preps news, follow Aj on Twitter. @AjMansourKFAN