The NHL Draft was bittersweet for Jack Jablonski, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s student who was paralyzed during a junior varsity high school hockey game in 2011.
"This past weekend was the 2014 NHL Draft. A day Jack had always dreamed he'd be a part of. A day he very well might have been a part of. But, we will never know," his mother, Leslie Jablonski, wrote on his CaringBridge page.
Fifteen Minnesotans were drafted into the NHL this year, many of them Jack Jablonski's friends. Like him, they always dreamed of playing in the NHL.
“I was following it all day,” Jack Jablonski told the Star Tribune. “I played with all those guys. Four of them are pretty much my best friends. It was definitely a fun day. It was nice to see my friends get rewarded for all their hard work, and because they have been so supportive of me. It’s great to see them take the next step.”
Leslie Jablonski said they are so happy for Jack Jablonski's friends, but the NHL Draft was a reality check for her family.
In the months since Jablonski's injury, he's made miraculous improvements and has been given life-changing opportunities, but the draft reminded them that his dreams of playing in the NHL were taken away years too soon.
"As the names of the latest draftees were running across the TV, I looked out the bedroom window and saw Jack sitting on the deck in his power chair, soaking up the sun and gazing into the distance. Reality hit me hard," Leslie Jablonski wrote.
And although his dreams of playing in the NHL won't become a reality, he's got a lot to look forward to. Jack Jablonski has become a sports radio host, he graduated from Benilde this spring and plans to attend the University of Southern California, KARE 11reports.
And he's still got his eye on a career in the NHL.