Monday, February 11, 2008

Memories of Malarchuk in Buffalo Sunday

It's perhaps the one injury that hockey players fear the most, rare as it is, but still quite frightening to watch when it occurs.

Buffalo fans revisited a horrible sight on Sunday evening, as a player on the ice in Buffalo suffered a ghastly injury that left the arena silent and players wondering if they should even finish the game.

Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers suffered a deep gash in his throat in Sunday’s game against the Sabres, leaving him to streak to the bench spraying blood as a trail much to the horror of players, coaches and fans alike.

In a scene reminiscent of one back on March 22, 1989, when then Buffalo Sabre goaltender Clint Malarchuk had his jugular vein severed when St. Louis Blues forward Steve Tuttle was upended heading to the crease, slicing into Malarchuk’s throat. Malarchuk required over 300 stitches to close the wound.

It was a similar incident on Sunday, with the exception that it was team mate Olli Jokinen’s skate which cut Zednik, that after Jokinnen has hit in the Sabres end of the rink.

Zednik immediately knew that he was in trouble, grabbed his neck and managed to make it to the bench where a trainer and team mate Jassen Cullimore, took him off the ice where he was rushed to hospital.

He was later listed as resting comfortably after successful surgery to close his wound.

The game was delayed for fifteen minutes as rink attendants scraped the ice of the wide swath of blood and resurfaced the rink with a Zamboni. While that was taking place the NHL was holding discussions as to whether the game should be called or suspended, in the end deciding to finish the game.

It was a decision that wasn’t universally endorsed by some of the players on both sides of the rink.

The Zednik injury was the second incident with a skate in the weekend, on Saturday NHL linesman Pat Dapuzzo was injured when he was hit in the face by the skate of Philadelphia Flyers Steve Downie. Dapuzzo required a dozen stitches and did not return to the game.

The twin incidents once again highlight the concern that players and officials must have on a nightly basis, as the razor sharp skates which provide speed on the ice also present no shortage of danger.

Hockey fans everywhere are thankful that Zednik is doing as well as could be expected and was not placed in any more danger than he was on Sunday, and all no doubt hope that his recovery is a quick a complete one.

Globe and Mail--Zednik suffers frightening neck injury
New York Times--Zednik’s Neck Is Sliced by Teammate’s Skate
Miami Herald--Panthers' Zednik stable after scare
Buffalo News--Zednik resting comfortably after surgery
Niagara Gazette--Florida's Zednik accidentally cut at HSBC Arena

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