Florida Panthers goalie pays tribute to New Canaan hockey player who died during game

Spencer Knight, Darien native and Florida Panthers guard, pays tribute to Teddy Balkind, the New Canaan player who died playing the game he loved.

Knight changed the design of his Florida Panthers mask to include photos of Balkind and lyrics from his teammates.

Knight has teamed up with professional mask artist David Gunnarsson, who has created many incredible NHL masks for stars like Rangers legend Henrik Lundqvist.

“It’s so important at times like this to make sure we come together and I thought this helmet would be a great way to represent the Connecticut hockey community and everyone who knew Teddy and his family,” said said Knight.

“It’s very, very unique and special for me to do a mask like this. It’s something I’ll never forget and I was so honored to paint it,” Gunnarsson said.

Balkind died earlier this year during a game in a fluke accident where an opposing player’s skate cut his neck.

The 16-year-old’s death gripped local high school athletic departments and the country.

This has raised demands for young players in the state to wear neck guards.

“It was one of those things where you kind of sit down, you’re like, ‘Wow, you know, like what just happened?'” Knight said.

Now when Knight takes the ice, Teddy Balkind is there too.

Knight also wore a Teddy Balkind jersey in a game against New Canaan’s Max Pacioretty and the Vegas Golden Knights following Balkind’s death.

Catherine J. Martinez