Forget his hockey career, Leafs draft pick is lucky to be alive

Published June 30, 2023 at 9:44
BY MIKE ARMENTI

For 19-year-old Hudson Malinoski, it was a dream come true to hear his name called at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. It was even more special to hear his name called by his favourite NHL team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, while the moment was a special one for Malinoski, at one point, the situation seemed highly improbable, as Malinoski nearly lost his career, and possibly his life, to a dangerous fall from approximately 12 feet, which left him with serious injuries.

Malinoski was shoveling snow off of the roof of his home in an attempt to make a snowboard ramp for he and his friend to use. I'd like to say, "typical teenage stuff", but this one might fall a bit further into the wildly unorthodox column. At any rate, Malinoski fell from his 10-12 foot elevation and suffered a torn vertebral artery in his neck, which could have led to stroke or aneurysm.

At the time of the injury, surgery was the only option for Malinoski and the procedure was "innovative", so, in other words, there were no guarantees that he'd ever recover and there were obvious risks. However, the procedure not only saved his life, but got him to a point where he was able to resume his hockey career and, ultimately, allowed him to pursue his dream of playing professional hockey.

"The surgery they had done on me hadn't been done before. It made me able to play hockey again, so I was happy they were able to do that. Being at the hospital, I questioned if I'd ever play hockey again, but the doctors were super good and they made it sound like I'd be able to get back to the sport I love." - Malinoski on the procedure that allowed him to pursue his dream



While Hudson made it sound less intense than it actually was, his mother, Tanya told a story of a much more concerning situation involving the young forward.

"Going to emerg that night, they said he had a concussion and sent us on our way, also not knowing he had fallen from the roof. From there, he progressively got worse every day. Still puking, not being able to move his neck, not eating, dizzy, and just really sick. As a parent, you know something was wrong so we took him to emerg two times within the week and they sent us home both times as they didn't want to do a CT (scan) as the radiation isn't great for kids."

Ultimately, Malinoski's parents took matters into their own hands, speaking with one of the top neurosurgeons in the country, Dr. Mike Kelly. Kelly wasted no time in ordering tests and determining the extent of Malinoski's injury and lining up the surgery. Malinoski's parents were told that it was "only a matter of time before he stroked."

Malinoski missed an entire year of hockey following the surgery and when he returned at the Bantam level, he felt lost. Ultimately, he stuck with it and wound up working his way through the AA ranks and the AAA ranks, wearing the "C" in his final season of AAA with the Saskatoon Blazers before winding up with the AJHL's Brooks Bandits last season, notching 69 points in 44 games.

While he was passed up in last year's NHL Entry Draft, he committed to Providence College to play NCAA hockey, where he's expected to play the next 4 years of his career. There's no question that the odds have been stacked up against Malinoski, but after defying the odds and being drafted, his plan is to now attend development camp in Toronto in a few days before playing out his college career and hopefully then transitioning over to the pro level.

Heck of a story and a heck of a comeback for this kid. It will be interesting to watch him develop over the next few years.

POLL
June 30   |   130 answers
Forget his hockey career, Leafs draft pick is lucky to be alive

Will the Leafs' 5th round pick, Hudson Malinoski, ever make the NHL?

No, the odds are stacked against him4433.8 %
Yes, his work ethic is obviously good3930 %
I don't know, but I hope so4736.2 %
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