The Twin Cities hockey player paralyzed in a junior game last month in suburban Chicago will come home soon to continue his rehabilitation, his family said Thursday in an announcement that included the first photos of him since he fell into the boards chasing after a puck.

The photos of Matt Olson, a former standout defenseman at Totino-Grace High School in Fridley, show him in his hospital bed sporting a neck brace and a smile.

“In the next week or two, when Matt is ready, we will be heading back to Minnesota, where Matt will continue his rehab,” said his parents, Sue and Doug Olson, of Isanti.

Matt Olson hit the boards Feb. 21 playing in a home game for the Chicago Cougars. Ever since, he’s been in Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. He’s unable to move below the shoulders because of a severe spinal injury.

The Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks have joined forces to raise money to go toward medical expenses, which doctors projected would be in the millions of dollars. The two franchises began accepting online bids for one-of-a-kind experiences as part of the fundraising effort. A complete list of items for bid and a link to Matt’s fundraising page can be found at or Bidding is open till noon Wednesday.

When the Wild and Blackhawks meet Tuesday in St. Paul, both teams will wear stickers on their helmets to show their support, and the X’s traditional “Let’s Play Hockey!” pregame call will be made by Matt’s brother Steve, grandfather Roger Lelm and cousin Nick Barr.