MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota State High School League is senT out a warning to all Minnesota high school hockey coaches on Tuesday.
It said players need to be warned that checking from behind is against the rules and extremely dangerous.
This warning comes after 16-year-old Jack Jablonski suffered a paralyzing blow during a hockey game last week. The sophomore from Minneapolis is in the hospital now awaiting major surgery scheduled for Wednesday.
The push for an awareness and education campaign is coming from a number of areas, but is being led by Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne.
For Nanne it’s also personal. He has three grandsons playing high school hockey and he knows the Jablonski family.
“You sit up there and just cringe you just worry,” Nanne said.
Nanne said at times it’s hard to be in the stands. His three grandsons are standouts at Minnetonka and Edina High schools. Nanne has visited Jablonski, who he said had the potential to play professionally.
“He is an extremely talented player,” Nanne said.
Nanne called both the Minnesota State High School League and the head of USA hockey on Tuesday to urge a policy of coaches warning players before every game.
“The last thing they should say to their players is remember no checking from behind,” Nanne said.
It was a check from behind by two Wayzata players that paralyzed Jablonski. Jack Jablonski’s father, Mike, called yesterday for rule changes.
“USA hockey needs to make some changes. You can’t run guys going 20 miles an hour into the boards with a stick and smash their head into the glass, that’s not a sport,” said Jack Jablonski.
The MSHSL does not track injuries in hockey or any sport, so it’s not clear how often serious injuries occur. On the same day and at almost the same hour as Jack Jablonski’s devastating hit, a similar tragedy appeared to unfold at the Totino-Grace/Red Wing junior varsity game.
Play was stopped for at least 30 minutes as a Red Wing player was immobilized and rushed to a local hospital. Red Wing High School told WCCO-TV on Tuesday the player has fully recovered. Any change in rules may be a tough sell.
This year Minnesota was the only state in USA Hockey that opposed doing away with checking at the Peewee youth hockey level. Minnesota lost that battle and checking is now banned for 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds.
Meanwhile, the junior varsity game between Wayzata and Benilde-St Margaret’s scheduled for Thursday has been canceled. The varsity game will go on as scheduled.