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Jablonski Has Surgery, Likely Won't Walk Again

Jack Jablonski, 16, was hit hard into the boards in a game last week.

Jack Jablonski, the 16-year-old hockey player who was paralyzed by a hard hit in a junior varsity game on Dec. 30, underwent surgery on Wednesday but will likely not regain full mobility.

A post on Jablonski's CaringBridge page said the surgery at Hennepin County Medical Center was a success, but also "confirmed that his injury was horrific." The prognosis is that Jablonski will not be able to walk or skate again.

"This news is devastating to Jack and everyone who loves him. Our hope and dream is that he will be able to prove this prognosis wrong," the CaringBridge post read. "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."

Jablonski's injury came with about nine minutes remaining in the Dec. 30 game against Wayzata. His father, Mike Jablonski, said he was hit by two players at almost the same time along the boards, with one of them slamming into Jack's back. Jack remained motionless on the ice.

“He just said, ‘Dad, I can’t feel anything,'" Mike Jablonski said.

Jack was rushed to HCMC with his neck in traction. Dr. Tina Slusher said the hard hit likely caused Jack's neck to dramatically hyper-extend. He suffered two fractured vertebrae and a partial tear of the spinal cord.

Slusher said different people heal in different ways after spinal injuries, so it's hard to say exactly how Jack will respond.

“How he’s doing in six weeks will tell us a lot more then right now," she said.

Jack's mother, Leslie Jablonski, said her son is handling things well and has high spirits considering the circumstances.

"He knows what’s going on, he knows the severity of the injury," she said. "But he’s not going to give up. He’s a fighter."

Mike Jablonski said he doesn't harbor ill-will toward the players who checked his son, but he would like to see U.S. youth hockey officials take a stricter stance against dangerous and illegal checks in the back.

"It won’t happen overnight, (but) USA Hockey needs to say, ‘Here’s the game we’re going to play,’” he said.

For the time being, the Jablonskis said they don't want to discourage anyone from playing hockey, including Jack's 13-year-old brother, Max, who plays youth hockey in Minneapolis. Leslie Jablonski said she even expects Jack to stay involved with the sport he loves, no matter how well he recovers.

“He’ll do anything he can to stay in the sport, one way or the other," she said. “He’ll never give up. He’s going to do something incredible with this.”

To share your well-wishes with Jack and his family, please visit his CaringBridge page.

Frank Kisch January 03, 2012 at 04:28 AM
We have to outlaw checking in boys hockey, like the girls have no checking . Should be fines up to $10,000 dollars for and checking. Only can use stick checking on the ice to knock the puck away. Its just a game, not world war 3
Michael Rose (Editor) January 03, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Do others agree with Frank? Should MN boys high school hockey have no checking?
Michael Hindin January 03, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Sports at any level should not encourage or allow injuring participants, otherwise it should be labeled "combat." Also headlines should be toned down and reporting more accurate. In the early phase of the treatment of this injury it is largely unknown what the lasting effects will be. Labeling him as "paralyzed" is premature. The Star Tribune reported the injury as a "severed" spinal chord. That would have most likely been fatal and there would be permanent loss of sensation and function from the injury on down if it. Your report of a "partial tear" and fractured vertebrae was far more accurate. Spinal chord injuries are frequently permanent, can often be made worse by improper first aid attempts, require highly skilled medical attention to assure the maximum level of recovery. First, as a community, we need to work harder to prevent these terrible injuries in sports and in the general community. Second we need to encourage our politicians to support (pay for) the research to develop more effective treatment options including stem cell research.
Matthew Hogan January 03, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Very tragic injury. Unfortunately, these types of hits are still prevalent at the NHL level. If they can't be completely controlled at that level, it's even tougher to control them with younger athletes. As a huge hockey fan, I love big hits -- but players need to use better discretion, especially when around the boards. I'm pulling for you, Jack -- best on a speedy and successful recovery!
big jon January 05, 2012 at 03:25 PM
Crawl back in your hole!
guy davidson January 05, 2012 at 05:03 PM
Mike HIndin's comments well said..
Dave January 05, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Frank I am going to say you must be a liberal because it souds like you want the government to step in and fine a child for playing a game wrong? Wow that is the most outrageous comment I have heard in alongtime! I feel for the family and wish them the best and hurt right along with them. If we lived in the perfect world no one would die or get hurt. But Frank this is a far from perect world so people will continue to die and people will continue to get hurt. A fine isn't going to make any one come back to life or not get hurt.
Foster Gibbons January 06, 2012 at 03:22 AM
Checking is a legitimate and, indeed, a core feature of men's professional and amateur hockey, including midget and high-level high school, college and Junior hockey. When taught properly, and policed effectively on the ice, checking need not result in devastating injury even at the breathtaking speeds of NHL hockey and with body weights as significant as we see at that level of the sport. The key element to remember and to insist upon as parents is that it be properly taught -- like any on-ice skill -- and that on-ice officials and coaches instill in their players a respect for the opposing player, and that discipline is enforced. USA Hockey as well as the NCAA and NHL and other pro leagues have made significant progress reducing helmet impacts but we need to redouble efforts to improve coaching skills with respect to the physical parts of the game and to eliminate hits from behind. There was a lot of attention drawn to hits from behind a few years back but this cannot be something that comes in and out of fashion but rather something that becomes as much a measure of good hockey as sticK handling or skating. Tragedies are tragedies, and there is nothing much one can say to the family or to the injured player except to express grief shock and support. But from tragedy we need to find a purpose

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