|Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik is in stable condition and resting comfortably after undergoing surgery at Buffalo General Hospital to close a laceration on his neck.
Nearly 20 years after the city of Buffalo watched in horror as the skate of St. Louis Blues
forward Steve Tuttle
collided with the throat of Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk
, a similar scenario unfolded at HSBC Arena on Sunday night.
forward Richard Zednik
was rushed to a Buffalo hospital after the skate blade of teammate Olli Jokinen
struck the side of Zednik’s neck. Blood gushed out as Zednik raced to the Panthers’ bench, where he was immediately attended to by Florida trainer Dave Zenobi.
Zednik is in stable condition and resting comfortably after undergoing surgery at Buffalo General Hospital to close a laceration in his neck.
“I wasn’t here for it, but I’ve seen the Malarchuk thing,” Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff
said. “That was an eerie memory of it.”
Zednik was skating into the right corner of the Sabres’ zone midway through the third period of a 5-3 loss to the Sabres when Jokinen was upended by Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell
. As Jokinen was falling head-first to the ice, his right skate flew up and caught Zednik in the neck.
The game was delayed for more than 15 minutes as the zamboni was needed to help clean the blood from the ice.
''My mind was not on the hockey game,'' said Jokinen, who is also the Panthers’ captain. ''If it was my call, I would have gone to the hospital with him.''
“The fact that he had the sense to come over to the bench and not waste any time allowed our trainer to give him attention,” Florida coach Jacques Martin said. “I thought the medical team here in Buffalo was quick to react. As soon as he got into the dressing room, I think they were able to stabilize him and stop the bleeding, which was probably crucial.”
Panthers spokesman Justin Copertino said the team was making arrangements to have Zednik's wife, Jessica, fly from South Florida to Buffalo by a charter flight Sunday night. The team was scheduled to return to Miami, but assistant general manager Randy Sexton and
Zenobi were going to stay behind to be with Zednik.
Referee Bill McCreary consulted with Martin and NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell in the tunnel leading to the Panthers’ locker room, where Martin admitted there was thought to postponing the remainder of the game. But an announcement was made shortly thereafter that Zednik was in stable condition and was in transit to a local hospital, which drew a classy standing ovation from the Buffalo crowd.
Colin Campbell was in the building because his son, Gregory Campbell, plays forward for the Panthers.
“I think there was some consideration,” Martin said. “I guess the fact that he was stable and under medical care was the information relayed to us and we finished the game.”
Martin said he was unable to see the play unfold from the Panthers’ bench. But he felt at least a little bit better upon hearing the news that Zednik was en route to the hospital.
“I didn’t see it, being close to the boards,” Martin said. “I was told it was a skate of one of our players. The only thing we knew then was that he was being looked after by the doctor. He was conscious and he was on his way to the hospital.”
Players from both sides admitted they had an extremely tough time focusing on the remainder of the game once play resumed.
''It's really hard to come back and focus on hockey,'' Panthers alternate captain Bryan Allen said. ''Hockey's a small part of life when you see something like that happen. It's hard to put it in the back of your mind and continue playing.''
“I don’t want to see anymore of that,” Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said. “I hope he’s going to be alright. I’m just glad I didn’t have a lot of shots after that, because it was hard to re-focus. You feel for the guy. It could be any one of us out there on any given night. That kind of stuff happens. You just never know.”
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.