Skip to Main Content

Bisson makes the most important saves of all

by Phil Coffey
Dr. Les Bisson was present when the Florida Panthers' Richard Zednik  suffered the severe laceration to his neck, and his quick actions helped to save Zednik's career and his life.
Panthers vs. Sabres highlights 

Thanks to Dr. Les Bisson, two professional athletes can look forward to recovery.

Hockey fans are well aware of the vital role Dr. Bisson played in saving the life of Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik last Sunday night when Zednik suffered a potentially catastrophic skate cut to his neck in a game against the Buffalo Sabres.

What you may not have heard is Dr. Bisson also was the physician who treated Buffalo Bills’ Kevin Everett, who many thought would be permanently paralyzed following a collision on the field earlier this season.

At this point, it sure seems like a good idea to leave a ticket for Bisson at a game. Truth be told, a lot of people helped Zednik at a crucial time, including the player himself.

Zednik had the presence of mind to get to the bench after the collision with teammate Olli Jokinen and those precious seconds may have made all the difference. Teammate Jassen Cullimore also saw the danger and got to Zednik on the ice and helped him to the bench, where trainer Dave Zenobi started treatment.

Facing a potential catastrophe required immediate, emergency treatment and that’s where Bisson’s expertise was more than vital. Bisson immediately squeezed off Zednik’s carotid artery and stopped the heavy bleeding that enabled Zednik to be transported to the hospital for surgery.

“We’re all physicians,” Bisson told Greg Stoda of The Palm Beach Post.. “We know where the carotid artery is. But to be frank with you, I thought; ‘Don’t let this guy die.’”

And he didn’t. The doctor was seated close to the ice and started moving when he sensed Zednik was in trouble.

“I have a little gate at my seat, and I can jump down into the tunnel,” Bisson told the newspaper. “I sprinted around and met them behind Florida’s bench. We were moving Richard toward my medical room. He was awake and cooperative. I said; ‘Just stay with me.’”

On the Panthers bench, assistant coach Mike Kitchen knew the situation was dire. He said Zednik’s face was already turning white by the time he got to the bench and the loss of blood was scary.

“It was coming out like someone had turned on a faucet,” Bisson said.

Zednik remained conscious and even complained that Bisson was being a little too forceful.

“He said, ‘Could you stop squeezing so hard?’’’ Bisson said. “I told him I was sorry, but I couldn’t do that.”

We’re all lucky Bisson didn’t.

“When we were done with Kevin (Everett), I said I hope I don’t ever have to go through something like that again,” Bisson said. “I’m saying the same thing about Richard.”

But God forbid if it ever happens again, everyone will be fortunate if Bisson is around.

One for the ages -- Mats Sundin has been in the news of late for all the wrong reasons, with discussions about him possibly waiving his no-trade clause with the Maple Leafs dominating the news.

What’s gotten lost in the shuffle is the face that Sundin has enjoyed a terrific season. Sundin said he appreciates the game more now that he is older.

“I remember coming in when I was 19 and thinking I’d be happy to play four or five years because that was about the average for guys,” Sundin said. “I’ve been very fortunate to play as long as I have. I’m not sure anyone likes to realize they’re the oldest guy on the team, but when you’ve been around for awhile you learn to appreciate the game more and I think I’ve actually enjoyed it more the past few years.”

In a difficult season to be sure, Leafs coach Paul Maurice has really appreciated the chance to work with Sundin.

Mats Sundin, with his consistency, his personality, his work ethic, those words get fired around all the time,” Maurice told The Toronto Sun. “You really need to see it in practice every day, in the weight room, with all the added responsibility of this market, he has found a way to enjoy it and embrace it. He has done a marvelous job in that locker room welcoming young kids, helping them perform at their best, setting the tone for our team.”

No fear of 30 for Brodeur -- Martin Brodeur has no fear of 30 like many people. In fact, it may be his favorite number since he has now won 30 games in 12-straight seasons.

This season, win No. 30 came at home against the Senators Wednesday night.

"It's definitely one of the things I set for myself," Brodeur told Tom Gulitti of the Bergen Record. "Thirty games, at the end of the year, it's not a big number, but there's not that many goalies that do it every year like that. So, definitely it's nice to get to that point and now look forward to get to 35 next."

Let’s face it, right now Brodeur rates right up there with death and taxes as far as consistency goes.

“Are you surprised?” Devils coach Brent Sutter asked. “Marty’s Marty. When you think about 12 consecutive 30-win seasons, it says something about him and the stature of player that he is and what he has meant obviously to this organization.”

As an added bonus for Brodeur, he passed Ed Belfour for third place on the all-time minutes list with 55,697.

Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock has sent a message to his team that if they want to make the playoffs, they have to start playing mistake-free hockey.

These are the times … -- It’s crunch time for the Columbus Blue Jackets, who need to start picking up victories to stay in the hunt for a playoff berth.

Following a lopsided home loss to Chicago, 7-2, Wednesday night, coach Ken Hitchcock called out his players, basically making the point that the litany of mistakes that cost them against the Blackhawks cannot be repeated.

“These are not rookie mistakes,” an angry Hitchcock told reporters. “These are fundamental errors made by good players. Hockey's a game of emotion and intensity and when the other team has it and you don't, you're not going to have very many successful nights. That's what happened tonight."

Hitchcock went on to say that the game with the Hawks may have a telling impact on the remainder of the season.

"This will take us one way or the other," he said. "We're either going to go up and grab this thing, or we're going to go pfffff."

The flip side -- Hockey players are a welcoming lot, especially now that it’s trade time. New players joining a team can expect to be greeted warmly and receive plenty of help adjusting to their new digs.

So you can be sure Mike Fisher will welcome Cory Stillman and Mike Commodore to the Ottawa Senators wholeheartedly; but it doesn’t make the loss of his close friend Patrick Eaves any easier.

“It’s sad to see those guys go,” Fisher said. “Patty was one of the nicest guys in hockey I’ve ever met. That’s the tough part about hockey. … Patty was a really good friend of mine. I saw him before he left ... he was obviously disappointed, but what do you do?

“No matter what, the guy was always smiling. He was a fun guy to be around, for sure. I don’t know if you could ever meet a nicer guy in hockey.”

Coaching mark -- Congratulations to Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, who coached his 550th NHL game Tuesday night in a 4-2 win against Minnesota.

MacTavish is now tied with Wild coach Jacques Lemaire for the third-longest tenure with his current team (eight years). Only the Sabres’ Lindy Ruff (11) and the Predators’ Barry Trotz (10) have been in place longer.

Raising his game -- More than a few people figured Sidney Crosby’s high-ankle sprain was going to throw a sized-87 monkey wrench into their playoff hopes.

Instead, the Pens have rallied admirably, thanks in large part to Evgeni Malkin’s ability to take his game to the next level.

“After Sid got hurt, on TSN there was a poll – ‘Are the Penguins going to do better, the same, or drop out of the playoffs?’” defenseman Brooks Orpik told reporters. “Everyone voted for dropping out of the playoffs. I think everyone in the room stepped up a little bit, but (Malkin) he’s the one that really jumps off the charts and really, really picked up his game. And that’s not saying he wasn’t playing well before Sid got hurt. He’d be the first to admit he’s playing the best he’s ever played in his career.”

And he has a great sense of timing too.

Flyers head coach John Stevens knows the stakes are high every night in the congested Atlantic Division standings.

Challenging days -- Flyers coach John Stevens went through plenty of lean times last season when Philly struggled mightily. So, he wasn’t straying far from reality when the Flyers got off to a great start. He knows circumstances can change in a second this season.

“Coming out of the All-Star break, we knew that the only thing we had done was given ourselves a chance to compete for a playoff spot down the stretch,” Stevens said. “There are no easy games on the schedule, and while we were happy with where we were in the standings, there’s no breathing room to relax and think we can lose a few games like we have and still keep ground on teams around you.

“Everyone is in striking distance of each other and if we don’t take care of things in our own backyard, it’s not going to matter what everyone else does. So it’s up to us now to win some hockey games.”

His players can’t say they haven’t been warned.

Playing with pain -- During the course of the regular season, every team is going to experience injuries and illness. They are as much a part of the game as much as wins and losses.

How the Phoenix Coyotes, one of the NHL’s youngest teams, have dealt with the loss of manpower this season has given coach Wayne Gretzky yet another reason to be proud of his team.

“It’s part of the game,” Gretzky said of dealing with injuries and illness. “I’m very proud of how our guys have worked and don’t complain about it. They’ve just battled hard, and with that kind of effort and commitment we’ll come out of this.

“We need to create some breaks here for ourselves. We need guys to pitch in and help out offensively, but all in all, our effort has been a lot stronger.”

Eyeing 2010 -- The ageless Chris Chelios has played in four Winter Olympics – 1984, 1998, 2002 and 2006. If given the chance, he would love to compete in Vancouver in 2010, although he knows he would be a long shot.

”If need be, I would love to play,” Chelios said. “To be honest with you right now, I'd be honored to play in those Olympics because I think it's going to be one of the best ever, to have the greatest group of players in the world, and the fact that it's going to be in North America.

”And if it's not as a player, I would hope in some capacity -- maybe as a coach, management -- but I would really love to be involved. … It's a ways away still, so a lot can happen. I feel great. I don't want to hold any young kid from getting a spot on the team, but by the same token I'm not ready to give it up, either.”

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.

Mailbag next

View More

The NHL has updated its Privacy Policy effective January 16, 2020. We encourage you to review it carefully.

The NHL uses cookies, web beacons, and other similar technologies. By using NHL websites or other online services, you consent to the practices described in our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service, including our Cookie Policy.