Harv Graczyk, the longtime St. Michael-Albertville hockey coach who guided hundreds of skaters throughout his more than 30 years in the organization, has died.
Family members said, via a statement, that Graczyk succumbed to complications from a head injury sustained last month on the ice. Via a GoFundMe Account, family posted about his death:
“With heavy hearts we say that our beloved Harold Graczyk has passed away. If there is a test for Angelhood, he surely aced it and is in good hands now. Heaven is lucky to have such a kind, supportive and generous man.”
Graczyk, 67, took a fall on the night of Nov. 26 at the St. Michael-Albertville Arena, and the beloved coach split his head open on the ice. Parents and paramedics rushed to his aid, and he was transported to a local hospital. Friends and family say he’ll be there for a while. He spent a week in the ICU, and is recovering now from a brain injury. Though Harv was wearing a helmet – as is required of all players and coaches – he did not have it strapped. His son, Ben, said the helmet came free as he was falling, so Harv’s skull took the brunt of the fall.
Doctors were able to reduce the swelling and get Graczyk stabilized, but they’re unsure of any long-term damage. Harv will be hospitalized several more days and require in-patient rehabilitation, meaning he and Bonnie, his wife, will be at the hospital and out of work for a while.
There is still a way to rally and pitch in to help Harv and family. There is a GoFundMe organized as the hockey community rallies around the Graczyk family.
Harv’s son, Blake, is also asking coaches to “strap in” when getting on the ice. He said many coaches just slap the helmet on, like his dad, but don’t buckle that chin strap.
“It just shows you how important it is to have your helmet secured because if it were, he probably still would have had a concussion, but it wouldn’t have been anywhere near this level,” Blake told FOX 9 reporters.