Tevlin: Hockey draft day was bittersweet for Jack Jablonski

  • Article by: JON TEVLIN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 6, 2014 - 8:27 AM
hide

Jablonski found an outlet for his hockey knowledge and ­passion by hosting an afternoon show on Sports Radio 105.

The first Minnesota hockey player to be drafted by the National Hockey League last week was Ryan Collins, who went to the Columbus Blue Jackets in the second round, the 47th pick overall.

Then came Jack Dougherty, at number 54, and Jack Glover at pick number 69. Keegan Iverson went to the New York Rangers in the third round. Miguel Fidler was drafted in the fifth round by the Florida Panthers. By the end of the draft, 15 Minnesotans had been chosen and took another step closer to their dreams.

On Wednesday afternoon, one of their biggest fans, Jack Jablonski, sat in his wheelchair outside Courage Center in Golden Valley and talked about his joy in seeing his friends get drafted.

“I was following it all day,” said Jablonski. “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.”

It was a gorgeous day. The sun was shining and Jablonski was in good spirits. He had just finished a physical therapy session and his personal assistant would soon whisk him off to more appointments and then to his afternoon radio gig on Sports Radio 105, the Ticket.

Though his best friends are now pros, Jablonski is probably more well known than any of them, ever since he was paralyzed from the chest down after a hit during a junior varsity hockey game on Dec. 30, 2011. Since then, his spirit and poise have captivated the state, motivated those struggling with disabilities and made him fast friends with hockey legends.

Jablonski was a star player, too, and no doubt would have been among those drafted if he hadn’t been injured. It’s something he’s been well aware of since the beginning.

“It was definitely bittersweet,” Jablonski said of draft day. “Once I was inspired to try to make it to the NHL. To see yourself not being able to be in that situation, well, it was hard.”

“It was a tough day,” said Jack’s dad, Mike Jablonski. “But he’s really happy for them. Some of them go back to grade school.”

Iverson has flown in to see Jack from Portland, Ore., and his junior team, the Portland Winterhawks of the Canadian Hockey League, have provided donations for health care because of Iverson’s friendship with Jack.

Jack’s mother, Leslie, wrote about her feelings on Caring Bridge following the draft:

“It was one of those times when you have a lump in your throat, yet you’re so happy for Jack’s friends,” she wrote. “It was a reality check for us. We initially cried as we watch his hockey dreams come to a crushing halt. But the overwhelming support, amazing opportunities, and incredible people that have penetrated our lives made it all OK.

“But those initial feelings seemed to creep back into my mind and heart this weekend,” she wrote. “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.”

More than two years after the injury, there are still ups and downs. But sitting outside Courage Center, Jablonski noted other clients coming and going, many in worse shape, all of them striving to live full lives. And he focused on the success of his friends. He’s called several to congratulate them since the draft.

Next winter, Jablonski plans to head off to the University of Southern California to take on his next challenge.

“I’m going to be rooting for [my friends] from Day One,” Jablonski said. “With all the help they’ve given me, they really deserve this. I’m thankful for their success and I’m thankful for them.”

Jablonski laughed, then cracked, “I hope they don’t forget me now that they are big shots.”

 

  • related content

  • Dougherty sees Nashville selection as 'dream come true'

    Saturday July 5, 2014

    Jack Dougherty, who played youth hockey in Cottage Grove, was drafted by Nashville.

  • Jack Jablonski and his Benilde-St. Margaret’s teammates were exuberant after they won the section title to advance to the state tournament in 2012. The Red Knights, with No. 13 watching from the stands, went on to win the boys’ state crown that year.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

San Francisco 0 Bottom 3rd Inning
Pittsburgh 0
Minnesota 10/2/14 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 0 3rd Prd
Buffalo 5
Carolina 2 3rd Prd 18:55
Columbus 3
Pittsburgh 1 2nd Prd 6:48
Detroit 0
Montreal 0 1st Prd 9:53
Chicago 0
Arizona 8:00 PM
Edmonton
Fla Atlantic 10/2/14 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 10/2/14 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 10/2/14 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Which local pro team are you most excited about?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close