Pittsburgh native Kevin Kenny may not be playing the game he loves for quite some time, but don't think for a second he isn't in the hearts and minds of everyone in the hockey community.
The career path for the 20-year-old forward took an unfortunate detour this month when he crashed into the boards during a game and sustained a spinal cord injury.
Since the accident Nov. 16 while playing in a North American Tier 3 Hockey League game for the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Vengeance against the Cleveland Jr. Lumberjacks, Kenny has undergone two successful spinal surgeries.
John Kenny, Kevin's father, released a statement Monday to inform the public that "Kevin has sustained a spinal cord injury and his prognosis is guarded."
The outpouring of emotion, prayer and support for the Kenny family from all levels in the hockey fraternity has been nothing short of remarkable. Not only was the Kevin Kenny Fund founded to help alleviate medical costs, but fundraisers are continually being organized, and the Cards for Kenny Campaign was created to provide added motivation during Kenny's recovery effort.
Kevin Kenny's immediate family, including his father, mother, Carolyn, and sister, Colleen, have acknowledged the "overwhelming support from the hockey community." Colleen is a senior at Miami University in Ohio.
Kevin Quinn, Kenny's high school coach at Quaker Valley High School, provided NHL.com with an update on his former captain at the Leetsdale, Pa., school.
The first spinal surgery was performed immediately after the injury. A second surgery was performed the following day (Nov. 18) in order to stabilize the area. John Kenny told NHL.com the hit was a "normal hockey play that you see 100 times in a game."
Kenny fell awkwardly with his back hitting the boards and remained on the ice before receiving assistance.
"He's getting excellent treatment, and the community is rallying around him, but that doesn't escape the fact he's got a very tough situation," Quinn said. "We continue to pray and send positive thoughts to him and the family.
"There is a window of opportunity for him because he's the kind of kid who will do whatever it takes to not only walk again, but skate again," he continued. "Right now, we're not even thinking about that. We're thinking about each day and getting through the breathing. Hopefully, good news will be coming our way."
Kenny has played for the Vengeance since 2012, scoring 16 goals and 29 assists the past two seasons. He helped Quaker Valley to the Class A Penguins Cup and state title in 2011-12 while serving as captain, producing 18 goals and 39 assists.
"He's a two-way player; he has skill and scoring touch but also likes to finish checks," Quinn said. "He plays a tough brand of hockey even though he isn't the biggest kid (5-foot-11, 170 pounds).
"I know he'll fight through this and he won't use it as a crutch to not be successful in whatever the next step might be for him."
Quinn has spoken on behalf of the family numerous times in an effort to help with the overwhelming requests of support.
"The game of hockey is what he loves and what we all love so much, but it's also an incredible community to grow up in," Quinn said. "I grew up in Canada and have lived in United States the past 20 years and I know how much both countries love the game.
"The emails and phone calls have been off the hook, and we've had to create liaisons to deal with the outpouring of support. The entire high school community, amateur hockey community and the Pittsburgh Penguins have all been so supportive."
For more information on Kevin Kenny, please visit www.helpforkevinkenny.com.
Donations are being accepted at www.GoFundMe.com/5d9lrk. Cards from players who wish to offer their support to the 'Cards for Kenny Campaign' can be mailed to: Cards for Kenny, c/o Renee Heininger, 205 Carriage Court, Pittsburgh, PA, 15238. Support may also be given via Twitter at: #prayersforKenny and #prayforKevin.