Panther forward Richard Zednik was in stable condition and resting comfortably after undergoing surgery Sunday evening at Buffalo General Hospital to close a laceration in his neck suffered during the Panthers 5-3 loss to the Sabres.
Zednik was skating into the right corner of the Sabres’ zone midway through the third period when Olli 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.
Despite the gruesome gash to his neck, Zednik immediately skated to the Panther bench, leaving a trail of blood. A towel was applied to his neck and he was escorted to the Panther dressing room. He was taken by ambulance to Buffalo General. Zednik was accompanied by Panther assistant trainer Dave Zenobi and was joined at the hospital by assistant general manager Randy Sexton. The Panthers made arrangements to have Zednik’s wife, Jessica, flown to Buffalo.
GM and coach Jacques Martin said immediately after the game Zednik was in stable condition and doctors had managed to stop the bleeding. After the game was delayed for 15 minutes to allow crews to scrape the blood off the HSBC Arena ice, the crowd was informed that Zednik was in stable condition and Sabres’ fans gave the Panther forward a standing ovation.
Speaking to Steve Goldstein and Denis Potvin on FSN Florida after the game, Martin said there was some consideration given to calling the game. Martin spoke with referee Bill McCreary and Buffalo coach Lindy Ruff during the 15 minute delay. But with knowledge that Zednik was stable and under medical care, the decision was made to continue the game.
Still, it was difficult to move forward. Ruff said his talk with Martin and game referees was “solemn.”
“From that point on, it wasn’t about the game anymore,” Ruff told the media after the game.
Martin called the incident a “scary moment.”
“It’s something you never wish to see,” Martin said. “Hopefully, he’ll be all right. The fact he came over (to) the bench, didn’t waste any time, probably allowed our trainer to give him attention. I thought the medical team in Buffalo was quick to react. As soon as he got to the dressing room, I think they were able to stabilize him and stop the bleeding, which was crucial.
“We’ll leave some staff behind and, hopefully, everything is all right.”
Zednik, 32, has been the Panthers hottest player, scoring six goals in the last four games. Signed over the summer as an unrestricted free agent, he has 15 goals and 11 assists.
In March 1989, Sabres’ goalie and former Panther goaltending coach Clint Malarchuk had his neck cut by the skate of Steve Tuttle of the St. Louis Blues. The incident also occurred in Buffalo.