Concerned individuals, including Jack Jablonski family, speaking out about immediate changes for safer hockey

In light of the recent tragic incident involving Benilde St. Margaret Sophomore, Jack “Jabby” Jablonski, who sustained a severe spinal cord injury from a check from behind that sent him headfirst into the boards, Jack’s family members and hockey leaders are speaking out for immediate changes to hockey to make it safer for our nation’s youth.

WHAT: A press conference covering pointed statements and a call-to-action for USA Hockey to strictly enforce the rules as outlined in the USA Hockey Official Rules & Casebook, particularly on body checking and the boarding penalty.

WHO: Max, Leslie & Mike Jablonski; Ken Pauly, head coach of Benilde St. Margaret Boy’s Hockey; Lou Nanne


Hennepin County Medical Center, Minneapolis

730 S. 8th Street Entrance, Room # RL110

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 12, 1:30 p.m.


  • To create a safe environment for all hockey players, especially children.
  • We are witnessing an increase in dangerous contact in hockey — a 100 percent increase over the past decade in visits to the hospital due to violence in the sport.
  • If the USA Hockey Rules were enforced more assertively, checking directly into the boards without intention of playing the puck would be called as boarding penalties. They typically are not.
  • What does the USA Hockey rulebook say about boarding? A minor or major penalty shall be assessed to any player who commits any action that causes an opponent to be thrown violently into the boards…The purpose of a body check is to separate the opponent from the puck. Any time a player delivers a check for the purpose of intimidating or punishing the opponent, and therefore causes the opponent to be driven excessively into the boards, a boarding penalty must be assessed.
  • Already, the Minnesota State High School Hockey League is addressing this issue.
  • USA Hockey leaders are at a national meeting in Florida this weekend. A loud call-to-action is necessary to ensure that we place pressure on this governing organization to immediately address this urgent issue. We want referees calling boarding penalties and fans to support the referees that do so.
  • A campaign is being launched to drive change involving governing bodies, parents/fans, players, coaches and referees.
  • To create a safer  hockey environment so that no other player EVER sustains an injury like Jack Jablonski.   We can’t let this happen again.  We must drive immediate change.

ADDITIONAL DETAILS:  Q&A to follow remarks.

Media Contact: Mardi Larson, 612.928.0202,  or or Christine Hill, 612.919.8711 or

Jack Jablonski surgery on Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Statement from the neurosurgeons at Hennepin County Medical Center about Jack Jablonski’s surgery:

“Jack Jablonski’s surgery went very smoothly, and we accomplished the necessary goals which were to assess and stabilize his spinal column to prevent further injury and allow for rehabilitation. Unfortunately, our pre-operative diagnosis was confirmed intra-operatively when we visualized the obviously horrific injury to his spinal column as a result of neck vertebrae dislocation and fractures (C5-6 dislocation fracture and a C6 fracture). An injury to the spinal cord of this nature results in severe neurological dysfunction and often leads to the inability to move the arms and legs.

“Spinal cord damage of this type is irreparable with surgery; however, Jack is young, strong and determined, and has excellent support from family, friends and the community. This support is essential to helping him recover from surgery and continue with the therapies he will require when he goes home.”

Dr. Thomas Bergman, Chief of Neurosurgery, HCMC
Dr. Walter Galicich, Neurosurgeon, HCMC

At 1 p.m. today there will be an opportunity to ask Dr. Walter Galicich questions about Jack’s surgery. Media can enter the hospital at 717 S. Sixth St. at 12:45 p.m. (HCMC’s Purple Building) and someone will bring you to the news conference. Family members will not be available for interviews.