Panthers' Zednik takes skate cut to neck
Richard Zednik skates off
2/11/2008 12:38:41 PM
Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik had emergency surgery after taking a skate to his neck in Sunday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena. Zednik's agent David Schatia confirmed Monday that his client is recovering in a Buffalo hospital.
"The surgery was successful and he's resting comfortably in the hospital," Panthers spokesman Brian Goldman said.
With the Sabres leading 4-3 midway through the third period, linemate Olli Jokinen - who was being checked in the Sabres' zone - fell forward and his skate accidently flew up and caught the right side of Zednik's neck.
Zednik bled profusely from the cut but was able to skate toward his bench where he was met by the trainer and immediately ushered to the locker room.
"It is super scary whenever you get contact with an ice skate," said Panthers coach Jacques Martin. "It was a good decision on his part to skate towards the bench. I think that saved some time and our trainers were right there to put pressure on it."
Panthers defenceman Steve Montador recalled seeing Zednik in a state of shock as he got to the bench.
"He looked pale, he was obviously standing and to a degree, coherent. But he didn't look as focused as you or I right now. He was staring at nothing," Montador said. "That's a pretty brave guy to realize what's going on: Grab your neck and get off the ice."
Players, coaches and fans sat in stunned silence after the accident, and the game was delayed for 15 minutes as the blood was cleaned off the ice. Fans gave a standing ovation after the public address announcer gave the encouraging update on Zednik's condition.
"We shouldn't have finished the game," Jokinen said. "I saw the replay, that it was my skate that hit him in the throat. I think we were all in shock. I've never seen anything like that. There are bigger things than (finishing the game). It was terrifying.
"I didn't think anyone on our team was thinking hockey out there after an injury like that. If it was my call, I would have gone to the hospital with him."
The NHL released a statement saying Campbell and commissioner Gary Bettman decided to continue the game after knowing that Zednik was stable, that trainers had stopped the bleeding, and that the teams were willing to go on.
"The thoughts and prayers of the NHL family are with Richard Zednik, his loved ones, his teammates and the Florida Panthers organization," the league stated.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said he too wouldn't have been against the game being stopped. "I don't know if there is a right answer, I don't know. I can fully understand if they wanted to cancel the whole game," Ruff said.
"It was pretty solemn. There wasn't a lot being said. There was just more concern for Richard than anything else. When you see something like that, it isn't about playing anymore. But I said, we're going to finish the game and it's going to be what it's going to be."
Prior to resuming the game, referee Bill McCreary and Martin consulted in the tunnel outside the Panthers' dressing room while Sabres general manager Darcy Regier was seen talking with NHL vice president Colin Campbell, who was at HSBC Arena to watch his son Gregory play for the Panthers.
After the game, the team made arrangements to have Zednik's wife Jessica fly to Buffalo. Also, assistant general manager Randy Sexton and assistant trainer Dave Zenobi remained in Buffalo to be with Zednik.
The incident will likely spark more debate into the subject of on ice safety for the players and specifically the introduction of neck guards.
NHLPA Executive director Paul Kelly said the Player's association is looking into the matter.
"We are pleased by the positive medical reports on Richard and are hopeful for his quick recovery. The NHLPA will review this matter in detail and will continue to ensure that our members are fully educated about all aspects of on-ice safety," Kelly said in a statement.
Zednik, 32, signed a two-year deal with the Panthers last summer. The native of Slovakia has played in 12 NHL seasons with the Panthers, New York Islanders, Washington Capitals and Montreal Canadiens.
He has 15 goals and 26 points this season.
It's not the first time that hockey fans in Buffalo witnessed such an uncomfortable incident. Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk had his jugular sliced in a 1989 game against the St. Louis Blues.
The Panthers have created a 'Get Well Web Page' on FloridaPanthers.com, you can send Zednik your thoughts and good wishes here.