The NWHL announced Friday evening that Boston Pride forward Denna Laing suffered a significant spinal injury at the Outdoor Women’s Classic Dec. 31 at Gillette Stadium. Laing has limited movement of her arms and no feeling in her legs, per a release from the NWHL.
Laing, 24, was injured when she went headfirst into the boards of the outdoor rink late in the first period of the contest between the NWHL’s Pride and the CWHL’s Les Canadiennes. Laing had to be stretchered off the ice.
"Our prayer going forward is that Denna can be moved from the Intensive Care Unit to a Rehabilitation Center and continue to fight every day with her trademark grit and resolve,” Laing’s parents, Jerilyn and Dennis, said in a statement. “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.”
NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said that each of the NWHL’s four teams will wear stickers on their helmets bearing Laing’s No. 24. Rylan added that Laing’s drive has inspired teammates and coaches throughout the season.
In addition to statements from the NWHL, the NHL, Montreal Canadiens, Boston Bruins and Kraft family, which owns the New England Patriots whose stadium the game was played at, also released statements.
“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,” commissioner Gary Bettman said.
Bruins president Cam Neely said the team will be extending its full support to Laing and her family.
“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,” Neely said.
Laing, from Marblehead, Mass., played for the CWHL’s Boston Blades in 2014-15 before making the leap to the NWHL this season. She was not part of the official 18-player roster of the Pride and had only suited up for four games this season, one of which was the outdoor game. Before turning pro, Laing played four seasons at Princeton University — she was a politics major — and captained the Tigers in her final two seasons. In 120 NCAA games, Laing netted 35 goals and 76 points.
Laing’s family and friends have established a website, www.dennalaing.org, for those offering support, donations and looking to follow her progress in her recovery.