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High school league: Stop checking from behind

By Star Tribune, 01/03/12, 8:58PM CST

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Jack Jablonski

As expressions of support for injured hockey player Jack Jablonski continued to build, the Minnesota State High School League on Tuesday reminded school administrators, hockey coaches and officials of the league’s desire to eliminate checking from behind.

The league issued a memo in the wake of a paralyzing injury to Benilde-St. Margaret’s sophomore Jack Jablonski during a JV holiday tournament game Friday in St. Louis Park. Jablonski was checked headfirst into the boards, sustaining what his doctor has called “a very serious spinal cord injury.’’

MSHSL Director of information Howard Voigt sent a copy of the memo to media outlets.

“This situation reminds all of us in the hockey community to renew our efforts to emphasize the elimination of hitting from behind in hockey and to emphasize proper contact techniques,” the note read.

It outlined the following recommendations to coaches, officials and players.

Coaches:
* Daily remind your hockey players to eliminate checking from behind.
* Prior to checking or contact drills, emphasize proper checking and contact technique.
* Before every game and every period remind your team to be aware of hitting from behind situations and to stay away from those situations.
* Be grateful when officials enforce the rules which will make the game safer for all involved.

Officials:
* In your pre-game meetings with captains and coaches emphasize appropriate contact and checking.
* Prior to each period talk to the captains or coaches to again remind them of the points of emphasis.
* When there are checks from behind do not hesitate to make the call—you are protecting all of the players involved.

Hockey players:
* Remember what your coaches and the officials have taught you—stay away from checking from behind situations.
* Remind each other to keep it clean and hit the brakes when you see the numbers on the back of the jersey.

Jablonski has received an outpouring of support on Twitter from friends, strangers and professional athletes via the hashtag #jabs – his nickname – and on his Caring Bridge site. He is scheduled for surgery as early as Wednesday at Hennepin County Medical Center to repair two broken vertebrae in his neck.

Brian Stensaas
 

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