The decision to not have Jack Jablonski on the ice following his school’s state title win resulted in the Minnesota State High School League receiving backlash from fans and even those in media.
MSHSL media specialist John Millea said Tuesday they’re OK with the criticisms but there are reasons why Jablonski was not the ice after Benilde-St. Margaret’s won the Class 2A title on Saturday at the Minnesota state hockey tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
“I think most people realize he wasn’t on the varsity team and that’s the main reason,” Millea said. “The policy is no one can be out there if they are not on the roster.”
The MSHSL, the state’s governing body for high school athletics and activities, has rosters listed for every team in the state. Jablonski was never listed on the roster the MSHSL has on its website but he will receive a medal, according to a report in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
Jablonski, a sophomore, was paralyzed during a junior varsity game in late December after being checked from behind into the boards. His injury became a source of inspiration for the Red Knights, which overcame early season struggles to win the state title.
He watched the game in a suite and following the game celebrated with his teammates in their locker room.
Millea said the MSHSL has planning meetings and multiple conversations in lieu of situations like Jablonski’s when and if a player should be honored.
During last season’s Class 2A boys state basketball tournament, Perham’s Zach Gabbard was wheeled out on the floor of Williams Arena prior to his team’s first-round game. It was Gabbard’s only appearance before Perham won the state title days later.
Gabbard’s name was called during the post-game medal ceremony and he did receive a championship medal as his teammates accepted it while holding his jersey.
“The difference there was Zach was never taken off the roster,” Millea said. “He was still a member of the team.”
Another reason was an insurance policy the MSHSL takes out on all of its participants whether it be for athletics or academics.
Millea said the MSHSL takes out a $2 million insurance policy on every participant involved so if something happened at any event ranging from the state football tournament to the state debate tournament, that participant would be covered.
Insurance policy aside, it also comes down to privacy, Millea said.
Millea, who spent 19 years with the Star-Tribune, said there was also the need to respect Jablonski, his family and Benilde-St-Margaret’s for sharing a intimate moment following the state title game.
Millea referenced an interview Red Knights coach Ken Pauly did with WCCO on Monday.
“That’s the thing. Honestly, people pour their hearts out for this kid and I feel for those who were disappointed they couldn’t see him,” said Pauly, according to a transcript on the MSHSL’s Facebook page. “But I do have to tell people, once again, Jack is these kids’ friends and they have really shared him with everyone. They were given that moment, by themselves as a team, we took a team picture around Jabby in the locker room. And there was just something beautifully quiet about that and deeply meaningful. And so, I think we were all so joyous about the moment with him that no one was giving a whole lot of talk about the on-ice celebration, to be candid.”