The story of high school hockey player Jack Jablonski, who was paralyzed during a game last week in Minnesota, has brought sadness to the entire hockey community. The unfortunate incident has highlighted the extreme dangers of the fast-paced sport.
After scoring the game's first goal, things turned for the worse in the third period when Jablonski was chasing down a lose puck, according to Boua Xiong of NBC affiliate:
One of the players hit Jablonski in the shoulder blades and then the second player pushed him up against the boards, McGowan said.
"His face slammed against the boards and his body was straight up and down," he said.
After the hit, Jablonski fell to the ice and remained motionless. McGowan said Jablonski told him he couldn't feel anything in his hands or feet.
There has been an outpouring of support for Jablonski since word of his accident became national news, especially on social media. Twitter has been lighting up with words of encouragement and hope from fellow athletes to everyday people.
Derek Stepan, who just got done playing in the Winter Classic with the New York Rangers, was one of many professional athletes to send their thoughts to Jablonski.
It wasn't just fellow hockey players, either. Minnesota Twins catcher Drew Butera crossed sporting lines to send a shout out to Jablonski, who faces a long road to recovery.
Bob McKenzie of TSN is one of several journalists who has tried to spread the word of “Jabs'” condition to a larger audience in hopes of broadening the support.
Aside from Twitter, there have also been plenty of videos dedicated to Jablonski on YouTube. The one below illustrates just how wide-ranging the support for him has become.
The students at Jablonski's Benilde-St. Margaret's high school in Minnesota wore white and honored him during halftime of the team's basketball game. A video of that tribute is embedded below.
Dr. Walter Galicich, the neurosurgeon who worked on Jablonski, didn't paint a pretty picture while explaining the injuries suffered during the hit. Curt Brown of the Star Tribune passed along the details of the doctor's diagnosis:
The doctor gave a grim account of the injuries, saying Jablonski dislocated his spine and suffered "several fractures and significant ligament disruptions" that means it's "very unlikely" that he'll have the use of his hands and will be unable to walk or use his legs.
"We can fix the bone, but we can't fix the spinal cord," Galicich said. "It's our job to be realistic and the family's job to be optimistic. Hopefully, he'll prove me wrong but, at this point, we can't expect much recovery."
Galicich also said the words of encouragement for Jablonski are more important than ever as he begins to adjust to his new lifestyle. Although the outlook is depressing, the doctor did provide a glimmer of hope by saying Jablonski's recuperative abilities are still good because he's young.
Every athlete who steps onto the field, court or ice has at least considered the possibly of a major injury, even if not on the same scale, and that's why so many have pledged their support. They know what the feeling would be like if they were in his situation.
It's always a sobering experience to watch somebody with so much life and exuberance be slowed down. Beyond that, it's unimaginable to consider what his family must be going through during this unthinkable event.
But if there's one thing we about know athletes it's that they are fighters above all else and Jablonski is no exception. He'll do everything within his power to work miracles.
And every message of support will help him on that long journey.