Blackhawks and Wild join forces to help paralyzed player

 
 
Updated 3/21/2016 8:53 AM
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  • The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild joined together to honor Chicago Cougars hockey player Matt Olson, who suffered a several spinal cord injury during a game Feb. 21. Olson is originally from Isanti, Minn.

    The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild joined together to honor Chicago Cougars hockey player Matt Olson, who suffered a several spinal cord injury during a game Feb. 21. Olson is originally from Isanti, Minn. Courtesy of Advocate Lutheran General Hospital

Andrew Shaw sat at his locker stall for 15 minutes Sunday morning, answering a barrage of hockey-related questions, when a reporter noticed a green wrist band on Shaw's right hand.

Turns out it's for Matt Olson, the Chicago Cougars player who suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a game at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates on Feb. 21.

Shaw and Blackhawks teammate Andrew Desjardins visited Olson in a Chicago-area hospital last week, bringing a jersey signed by the entire team and a stick signed by Alex Ovechkin, who happens to be Olson's favorite player.

"It's just one of those freak accidents you wish you never see," Shaw said. "Kids grow up wanting to play this game and when something like that happens, it's a scary thought."

"It's a tough situation," Desjardins said. "Just to see a young guy like that suffer this kind of injury. For the most part, he seemed like he was in pretty good spirits."

Both players said one of the first things Olson did was to get on their case about the team's 5-0 loss to Los Angeles.

"Cracked a joke right away when we got in there," Desjardins said. "Chirping us about the loss the night before. That definitely put a smile on our face, just to realize how positive he was about the situation."

On Saturday, the Blackhawks and Wild announced a joint effort to raise money for the 20-year-old Olson, who is from Isanti, Minn. Items up for auction include:

• Being a Blackhawks player for a day.

• A Blackhawks Convention VIP package for four.

• Dinner with Denis Savard and tickets to a game.

• The chance to travel with the Hawks for an away game on their team plane for one game next season.

Fans can go to http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=111814 to bid or donate to Olson's Go Fund Me page.

Olson was injured when he went headfirst into the boards and is now a quadriplegic.

"One thing I will say is that there's hope," neurosurgeon Dr. John Ruge told ABC7 news, the Daily Herald's news partner. "And not just generic hope, because he wasn't severed, his spinal cord is in continuity."

Both the Hawks and Wild wore stickers on their helmets in support of Olson, and more is planned when the Hawks play at Minnesota on March 29.

More than 1,400 people have donated to Olson's cause.

Said Desjardins: "It's such a great thing with the teams getting together to support him, as well as everybody else that is going on the website and donating. Donating time, donating things for the auction. Doing all that stuff. I mean it's pretty neat to see."

Injury update:

Joel Quenneville said Corey Crawford's status remains the same and he's still considered day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Marcus Kruger, meanwhile, is expected to play at some point during the Hawks' four-game road trip that begins Saturday in Calgary and concludes April 1 in Winnipeg. Kruger has been out since dislocating his wrist on December 17.

Slapshots:

Four of Michal Rozsival's 9 assists this season have come in the last six games. … Minnesota entered Sunday's game with the third-worst penalty kill percentage in the NHL on the road (74.0). … Christian Ehrhoff, Brandon Mashinter and Dennis Rasmussen were the healthy scratches for the Hawks on Sunday. … The Rockford IceHogs beat Charlotte 2-1 when Matt Fraser scored in the 13th round of a shootout Sunday. Brian Bickell scored the IceHogs' only goal during the game.

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