Who was Teddy Balkind? Teen dies from freak injury after his throat was cut by opponent's skate
After a collision, Balkind's neck was slashed by a skate during a game between two private schools, tragically the young player could not be saved
An ice hockey match between St. Luke's and Brunswick School in Connecticut turned into tragedy on January 6, 2022, after a freak accident killed one of the players. Reportedly, a collision between players led one player's skate to slash at the neck of Teddy Balkind, a 10th grader from St. Luke's. He was declared dead at the hospital later that night, sending the community into mourning.
Back in March 2020, a Kentucky girl had her neck similarly slashed after falling off her bike and crashing into a curb in Hodgenville. On September 2, 2021, another freak accident claimed the life of Jaumarcus McFarland, a teen college prep football player in Atlanta. As we reported, McFarland was riding on an elevator that went into free-fall, before crashing at an Atlanta high- rise. Former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Matiss Kivlenieks died in July 2021 after a firework accident when he was celebrating the Fourth of July.
While it's rare for underage players to suffer life-threatening injuries on the pitch, the freak accident that claimed Balkind's life was a rarity. While USA Hockey does recommend neck guards for players, one expert told CBS Local that it may not have saved Balkind's life. "One of the problems with the neck guards, besides them being so cumbersome, is they didn’t eliminate the risk of lacerations... these aren’t flawless," noted Ted Curtin, a former youth hockey coach.
Who was Teddy Balkind?
Little is known about the St. Luke's student, who was in the 10th grade when he passed away. CBS Local did report he was a camper at Camp Awosting since 2014. The camp has been described as a place where "boys learn by doing", hosting boys since 1900 with over 40 activities. The camp too acknowledged his loss, emailing families, "Teddy Balkind was a fearless, beautiful soul, who was full of life and a friend to all...Teddy led by example was a mentor to our younger campers, and was just an amazing young man." In 2021, he was named a captain of one of the camp's "tribes", and had won numerous awards in his time there.
Instagram posts indicate Teddy loved mountain biking, one of the activities at Camp Awosting he had won awards for. Before joining St. Luke's, he reportedly studied at New Canaan Public Schools and even represented the New Canaan Winter Club. "Teddy skated for the New Canaan Winter Club throughout his youth hockey career and was known to all as an all-around incredible young man, son, and brother," the town's police department said in a Facebook post. One website reported Teddy was also a mentor for the Southern Connecticut Storm, a hockey program for kids and young adults with developmental disabilities.
Around 5 pm, Teddy was involved in a collision at the game against Brunswick, which caused him to fall down. A Brunswick player who was coming straight at Teddy couldn't stop himself and subsequently collided with him, leading his skate to cut Teddy's neck. The game was immediately stopped at Teddy was taken to hospital, but tragically he did not survive the attempts to save him.
St. Luke's canceled classes on January 7, and also lowered its flag to fly half-mast. The team has also been offered support and counseling. The news of his death also reached Philadelphia Flyers forward Cam Atkinson, who started the trend #SticksOutForTeddy. Within hours, the hashtag caught the attention of the NHL and other hockey players and teams from across the nation.