MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A family devastated by their son’s injury issued a call to action on Thursday.
They want to change the way the game of hockey is played so that no other family has to be in their shoes.
Jack Jablonski’s spinal cord was severed during a hockey game two weeks ago, leaving him paralyzed. His parents, younger brother and high school coach were among those who called for changes in the game.
The family has also rolled out “Jack’s Pledge,” a pledge they hope every youth hockey player takes to make the game safer.
Leslie Jablonski described the heartbreaking moments after Jack was hit.
“I went out on the ice and he told me ‘Mom I can’t move I almost collapsed on top of him,'” she said. “In Jack’s case it’s too late, but it’s never too late to stop this from happening in the future.”
Surrounded by more than two dozen hockey jerseys gifts to Jack, including from some of the biggest names in the game, the Jablonski’s said Thursday they want to make sure USA Hockey, referees, coaches and players follow the rules and make hockey safer.
“If we don’t do anything there is going to be a parent up here 12 months from now in my shoes, in Leslie’s shoes and we can’t let that happen,” said Mike Jablonski.
Ken Pauly, the high school hockey coach at Benilde-St. Margaret’s, said he has already seen a change in the way referees are calling games.
“There are a few things called, called back in our games that I know would not have been called two weeks ago ,” Pauly said.
Max Jablonski, Jack’s 13-yar-old brother, said Jack is in good spirits, even offering him advice before the news conference in telling him jokingly, “Don’t screw up.”
Max said the support from across the world is a huge boost for Jack.
“I was lucky enough to visit the Wild locker room, every one of them asked to say hi to Jack or get better and it’s just touching how many people are really thinking and praying for him,” Max said.
When Max now takes to the ice, it’s with a new purpose.
“I am just going to work as hard as I can to make my brother proud,” Max said.
Also speaking at the news conference in support of a safer hockey was Minensota hockey great Lou Nanne. Former Gov. Tim Pawlenty has also signed on to support their safety campaign, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar was at the news conference saying she plans to advocate for stem cell research, research that could provide breakthroughs for spinal cord injuries like Jablonski’s.