Denna Laing suffered ‘significant spinal injury’ in women’s Winter Classic

While playing in the women’s outdoor classic in Boston, Boston Pride forward Denna Laing, accidentally stepped on a stick and collided with the boards. She was immediately stretchered off the ice and taken to Massachusetts General via ambulance.

To respect the Laing family’s wishes, the media and all involved with the game have refrained from comment. On Friday, Jerilyn and Dennis Laing released a statement through the NWHL indicating that Laing had suffered a significant spinal injury in the game. 

From Jerilyn and Dennis Laing:

“Denna was thrilled to be taking part in the inaugural season of the National Women’s Hockey League and was absolutely delighted to be one of the pioneers in a breakthrough moment for her sport – the Outdoor Women’s Classic. Tragically, Denna suffered a severe spinal cord injury playing the sport she loves. As of today, Denna has limited movement of her arms and no feeling in her legs.

“Our prayer going forward is that Denna can be moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a Rehabilitation Center and continue to fight everyday with her trademark grit and resolve. With respect to her long term prognosis, right now there are more questions than answers. We have received an incredible outpouring of love and support from countless friends and family members while we try to navigate this overwhelming situation. We are eternally grateful to everyone who continues to offer support as we take on this challenge together.”

It is impossible to fathom what Denna and her family are going through. We cannot begin to express our profound sympathies and prayers to the entire Laing family.

Earlier this week a GoFundMe account was created to help with costs associated to Denna’s care; the complexities of which we cannot speculate on. It raised around $43,000 before being suspended at the request of the family. In its place, the website has been created for people to donate, receive updates on her status and send well wishes to Denna as she strives to recover. 

There have been many questions about insurance coverage for the players NWHL players. The Boston Globe addressed some of the issues prior to the release of the statement:

“… players who compete in the National Women’s Hockey League for the Pride, New York Riveters, Connecticut Whale, and Buffalo Beauts are covered by insurance. There were insurance issues in advance of the Outdoor Women’s Classic, but those involved the coverage for the Pride’s opponent, the Montreal Canadiennes of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

“‘We have an insurance policy for a situation like this,” said NWHL spokesman Jake Duhaime. “The NWHL covers all players in accordance with state and federal laws.'”

Additional statements were issued in the release. From NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan:

“The players, teams, coaches, management and staff of the National Women’s Hockey League are united in their support of Denna Laing and her family. To reflect our admiration for her as a player and our appreciation for her contribution to the NWHL’s first season, we are working with the Laings, our business partners and others to respond compassionately and appropriately to her injury. We will announce further details as soon as plans are formalized. Denna’s drive to excel has inspired teammates and coaches alike; in honor of that attribute, I have directed our teams to wear a helmet sticker bearing her uniform number, 24.”

From NHL commissioner Gary Bettman:

“Everyone at the National Hockey League, including the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens, joins Denna Laing’s coaches, teammates, friends and fans in wishing Denna the very best as she confronts the challenges ahead. While we are certain Denna will be served well by the tenaciousness that is her trademark, we also will work with the Laing family to rally the support of the hockey family during Denna’s rehabilitation.

“We have withheld comment to this point out of respect for the wishes of the Laing family and will continue to honor those wishes going forward.”

From Cam Neely on behalf of the Boston Bruins:

“On behalf of the Jacobs family I would like to extend the full support of the Boston Bruins to Denna and the Laing family,” said Bruins President Cam Neely. “The New England hockey community is an incredibly strong group, and we know the assistance that will be provided to Denna and her family will be unwavering both in the immediate future and throughout the various stages of treatment.”

From Geoff Molson on behalf of the Montreal Canadiens:

“The entire Canadiens family, from ownership to management, staff and players, wishes to extend their very best to Denna through this hardship and lends its support to her and her family following this unfortunate injury.  Our thoughts are with Denna, her family, friends and teammates.”

 From The Kraft Family on behalf of the New England Patriots:

“The Kraft family and entire Gillette Stadium community were deeply saddened to learn of the extent of Denna Laing’s injuries. Our prayers remain with Denna and her family in the hope that she will soon be able to transition to a rehabilitation center that will enable her to continue to improve. We will keep Denna and her family in our prayers throughout her rehabilitation process.”

From CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress:

“The CWHL’s players, teams, coaches and staff join the entire hockey community in their support of Denna Laing and her family. The women’s hockey community is an incredibly close group and Denna’s passion for the game touched many as a member of the Boston Blades. Our thoughts remain now and always with Denna, her family and her teammates in this difficult time.”

Finally, from the Yale hockey team also showed its support.