By Anoop Bainiwal, Jan. 11, 2021. SAN JOSE, CALIF. — Teddy Balkind, a sophomore at St. Luke’s School in Connecticut, died after a collision during a game against Brunswick School on Jan. 6.
Balkind fell to the ice during the game. There was a Brunswick player near him who was unable to slow down and the Brunswick player’s skate blade cut Balkind’s neck, according to Greenwich Police Captain Mark Zuccerella. The game was immediately stopped. Balkind was transported to Greenwich Hospital but was unable to survive the emergency operation, said Zuccerella. The Connecticut Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Balkind’s death an accident. The ME’s office said Balkind died of an “incised wound of the neck.” This sudden and tragic death shocked the Connecticut community and spurred waves of shock and grief.
Balkind’s death led to thousands signing a petition to have mandatory neck guards for hockey players. Sam Brande, one of Balkind’s best friends, started this petition on change.org. “It feels like there’s no reason not to have neck guards required in the United States, and it feels like we had to lose a young hockey player to bring awareness to the topic.” Neck guards may be the most disliked piece of hockey equipment because of the climate during gameplay being hot and cumbersome. Neck guards are mandatory in Canada but not in the U.S.
Amy Grabine wanted to honor Balkind by giving back to those in need. Grabine came up with ‘Teddies 4 Teddy’ where she, along with other volunteers, will collect teddy bears at every home game at the Terry Conners Rink during January and will donate them to a child in need. “We felt like this was a good way to keep Teddy’s memory alive and this is one way we can honor him for years,” said Grabine.
Several National Hockey League Teams gave tributes to Balkind. The Boston Bruins hung a Balkind jersey above their bench before the start of a game vs the Montreal Canadiens. Carolina Hurricanes right wingers Teuvo Teravainen and Seth Jarvis paid their tribute to Balkind by having Teddy-5 written on their sticks. New York Rangers players wore Balkind jerseys in their warm ups before their game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The NHL mourned the passing of Balkind through the hashtag #sticksoutforTeddy. Hockey players and teams all over the world posted a picture of their sticks using the hashtag. Local NHL team San Jose Sharks posted a photo on their Instagram below with the caption #sticksoutforTeddy. This tragedy will stay as one of the biggest tragedies in hockey history.