MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was the hit heard around the nation, and now it’s affecting rules in the game of hockey.
On Dec. 30, during a Benilde-St. Margaret’s hockey game, Jack Jablonski was illegally checked from behind. As a result, the sophomore suffered paralysis.
Jablonski’s story is featured in the new edition of Sports Illustrated that hit the newsstands on Thursday.
The story not only updates Jablonski’s condition, but it is also a reflection on the impact the tragedy has had on hockey families in Minnesota.
Karen Schneider of Minneapolis wrote the article. She knows the Jablonski family, and her son is a rising youth hockey star.
Schneider said she at first pitched the story to her friends in the national media to draw attention to Jack Jablonski’s injury and to focus attention on making the game safer. Sports Illustrated said they wanted the story but from a hockey Mom’s perspective.
WCCO’s Dave Lee Interviews Karen Schneider
“I don’t love the fact that part of the game is these kids crashing into each other and these kids crashing into the boards and hurting themselves,” she said.
Both Schneider’s 13-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son play hockey. For a month after Jablonski’s injury, Schneider couldn’t go to her son Cade’s games for fear of seeing him take a hit.
“Sometimes when that happens I say I hate this game, but I don’t hate the game. I hate the people who make the game bad,” Schneider said.
The Jablonksi tragedy has resulted in tougher penalties at both the youth and high school level.
“It’s a tragedy that it took this to make it happen, but there is a change underfoot and it makes me very happy,” she said.
The story also features in depth interview with the Jablonksi’s and details on how hard Jack is working.
“He is using his athletic mentality, his competitive nature to make the best of this situation and he is making amazing progress,” said Schneider.
For Leslie Jablonski, the story is a mirror on the injury and its immediate aftermath.
“That time in our life happened so fast and I don’t remember everything, but to read it and to read it so beautifully written brought me to tears,” Leslie said.
It’s also a story about how Jack’s injury has left so many in the hockey community thinking that could have been their child. Schneider’s son Cade is already being scouted by elite junior teams.
“If everything goes the way Cade wants it to go he will play hockey at increasingly exciting and dangerous levels for the next 10 to 15 years,” Schneider said. “Every day I struggle with that reality because if I could I would say why don’t you take up chess?”
Schneider said she knows that’s not going to happen. For all her reservations about the violent parts of the game, Schneider said she appreciates what she calls the beautiful parts of the game that her son and so many others love so much.