This story was originally printed in the Endicott Observer – A student newspaper for Endicott College of Beverly Massachusetts. 

Denna Laing is a Professional Hockey player for the Boston Pride in the Women’s Hockey League, as well as a Marblehead Mass. native. She also recently graduated from Princeton University.

On December 31st, Laing and her teammates prepared to play a game at Gillette Stadium on the outdoor rink, the day before the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadians would play in the 8th annual Winter Classic. This game would mark the first for the WNHL.

The game started with players noticing the rink was slushy, due to the abnormally high temperatures in New England at the time. NHL players complained about the rink conditions in the warm up skate they had before the women’s game.

Nevertheless, the game went on.

Late in the first period Laing, who was just called up off the practice squad for the game, skated to the corner. She would accidentally trip on a stick and go head first into the boards. The game would come to a halt, and Laing would be stretchered off the ice and taken to Mass General.

Since there is no video from the game, it cannot be confirmed whether Laing would trip on a stick or fall because of the slushy ice conditions.

Once at Mass General Hospital, Laing was told she had a severe spinal cord injury, and had no feeling in her arms and legs at the time.

In a statement released after her injury from her parents Jerilyn and Dennis Laing, they said:

“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.”

Now that we are a month past the injury, Laing has shown great improvements. In a video released on “The Denna Laing Team” Facebook page, the one video is split into. The one video on the left shows Laing 7 days after being admitted into rehab where she struggles to use a Vita Glide machine. This machine essentially tests your upper arm strength by pulling on two levers back and forth. Seven days after rehab, as you could imagine, Laing struggled. Now, 21 days later on February 2nd, Laing is unstoppable, showing great improvement with the machine. She is still in a wheelchair, but no longer needs as much assistance as she did 21 days ago.



Along with upper body strength, Laing has flaunted her lack of braces and tubes she once needed. Laing has definitely shown great improvement in the short time she has been in the hospital.

Photo Courtesy of The Denna Laing Team Facebook Page

Since the injury, the support for Laing is incredible. Large groups like the Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadians, the NHL, and Barstool Sports have all came out to help.

On January 19th, the Bruins re-matched the Montreal Canadians, with the game played in Montreal. The Canadians honored Laing before the game by playing a video montage for her.

Two days after, the Bruins honored her with their own video at the TD Garden, while inviting Laing’s sisters to drop the puck before the game. The Bruins and broadcast partner NESN started campaigning hard to donate to Laing’s fund. The Bruins even created a beanie in Laing’s honor, with all proceeds going to her foundation. I’m having trouble embedding the video, but you can watch it HERE.

Also, Barstool Sports founder David Portnoy put T-Shirts on sale in support of Laing’s foundation. The sale is now over, with the T-Shirts raising just around $85K, while also getting other professional athletes to donate money with Portnoy.

These weren’t the only people that showed support. Social media stormed Laing’s Facebook and Twitter in support. Multiple social media campaigns were started in support of Denna. Hockey teams from all over the United States aligned as the number 24 on the ice in support of Denna and her fight. For non-hockey teams, the hash tag #DSTRONG was also born.

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Courtesy: @EndicottWIH Instagram

To follow along with her progress, you can follow Denna on Twitter @dlaing14, or find her foundation on Facebook “The Denna Laing Team.” By reading her posts, you can tell how well Laing is taking this. Each post shows her progress, and even includes a couple jokes. I promise they will make you smile.

On behalf of all the Newspaper Staff and Standing Room Only Staff, we hope and pray for a speedy recovery. Laing’s perseverance and strength is something we can all admire.