-- Few could have predicted the impact Jack Jablonski, a 16-year-old high school sophomore from Minnesota, would have on the hockey world.
Unfortunately, it was for all the wrong reasons.
Jablonski was checked from behind two weeks ago and suffered a paralyzing neck injury that doctors have said will cost him the ability to walk -- much less skate -- for the remainder of his life.
But don't tell Jablonski. Just last week, his mother Leslie reported he could move his arms -- something doctors said wouldn't be possible.
"With all the prayers and support we've gotten, we're already seeing miracles," she said last week.
The outpouring of support from so many in the hockey community has been overwhelming. Just last night, Jablonski himself said on Twitter that he received a phone call from Wayne Gretzky
, the son of Herb, the iconic coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Gold Medal team, along with team member Rob McClanahan
, brought Herb's gold medal to the hospital so "Jabs" could see it.
"Still in shock," Jablonski said on Twitter. "Unbelievable."
He also got a visit Monday from members of the Wild and Sharks.
, Joe Pavelski
, Ryane Clowe
and Jamie McGinn
visited with after the Sharks arrived in Minnesota. The players delivered Jablonski a Sharks jersey signed by the entire team.
, Dany Heatley
and Cal Clutterbuck
visited him Monday afternoon. They gave him a Wild jersey signed by the team and also gave Jack and his brother, Max, Wild jerseys with the No. 13 on the back. Those jerseys were signed by Setoguchi, Heatley and Clutterbuck.
"He was pretty excited to see the players," Wild forward Devin Setoguchi
said. "He's doing really well. He's ahead of where the doctors said he would be, so that's good news for him."
Added San Jose director of media relations Scott Emmert: “We had heard about the accident, noticed that we were going to be in town this week and wanted to do something for Jack and his family. These players came forward and said that they wanted to drive to Minneapolis to visit with Jack. It says a lot about them as people and about hockey as a 'family' as opposed to being just a sport."
People from around Minnesota, which calls itself the State of Hockey, have been reaching out to the Jablonskis since the accident, raising tens of thousands of dollars in support. Beyond financial help, schools around the state have had "Wear Red" days to honor Jack, who attends Benilde-St. Margaret's prep school in St. Louis Park, a Minneapolis suburb. Its school colors are red and white.
Setoguchi said he and his teammates will visit Jablonski again in a couple of weeks.
"You never want to see something like that happen, especially to a kid," Setoguchi said. "He's a couple blocks away from me at the hospital so it's really no big deal to go down there."
Wild coach Mike Yeo
said Monday the accident has hit close to home for him.
"I've got kids that play the game, and I don't know that there's anything more that I love besides coming to the rink and doing what I do, (than) to watch my kids play," Yeo told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I just hope we can learn more about how we have to play the game and maybe the rules or whatever we can do to make sure that nothing like this happens."
Beyond that, Yeo said the Wild organization feels it's their duty to look after one of their own.
"We feel we represent the State of Hockey," Yeo said, "and the players that play hockey in this area, the people that support hockey in this area, we have an attachment to. So we feel that this is one of our own here that had this accident, and believe me, we're hurting."