On Monday, January 23, Jack Jablonski was transferred from Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) to Sister Kenny Institute for rehabilitation by the two paramedics who were on duty when the 16-year-old was injured.
On December 30, HCMC paramedics Scott Brethorst and Geoff Antonenko responded to a call from St. Louis Park Rec Center, where a hockey player was down after being checked. The paramedics immediately went out on the ice to care for Jablonski. “There are certain types of calls we remember for the rest of our lives, ” explains paramedic Scott Brethorst. “And this was one of them.”
After assessing Joblonski, Brethorst’s concern was easily read by his colleague, paramedic Geoff Antonenko.
“I remember Scott gave me a look that said, ‘this is serious,'” said Antonenko.
Jablonski spent the next 24 days at HCMC, where his room took on the look of a pro shop with autographed jerseys and memorabilia from sports teams and celebrities throughout the country.
Emergency Medical Services supervisor Wade Johnson, who is also the coach of the Hennepin Generals hockey team, heard of Jablonski’s pending discharge and knew that Brethorst and Antonenko would like to see him before he left HCMC.
“One of our new ambulance rigs was arriving on Monday morning, so we arranged it so that the two paramedics who brought him to HCMC in December could bring Jack to the next part of his journey,” said Johnson. “His story touched us all, and we wanted to do this for him.”
“We don’t often get the opportunity to follow up with the patients we care for, so it was an honor to see this courageous young man again,” said Brethorst. “Like I said, there are certain calls you never forget.”
Jack Jablonski, the inspirational young hockey player who sustained an injury to his spine after a game on December 30, has had a steady stream of visitors to his hospital room to offer encouragement and support. In addition to friends and family visits, several well-known athletes have also stopped by to see Jack.
The first one was Lou Nanne on January 2, who also spoke at a news conference with the Jablonski family on January 12 to promote enforcement of hockey rules to keep the game safe.
Other famous visitors include: Cal Clutterbuck, Devin Setoguchi and Dany Heatley of the Minnesota Wild; Dan Brooks, (son of the legendary Herb Brooks); Olympian Rob McClanahan; San Jose Sharks’ Logan Couture, Jamie McGinn, Joe Pavelski, Ryane Clowe; and recently Chad Greenway of the Minnesota Vikings (on January 19) and and retired NHL star Jeremy Roenick (on January 20) also visited Jack at HCMC.
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Christine Hill, 612.919.8711 or email@example.com
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.