Monday, February 11, 2008

The Zednik scare

The picture says it all.

Here in Toronto on our all-sports radio station, the Fan 590, they pick up ESPN overnight in the wee hours. I've got it on as background noise quite often, and I'm certain tonight was the first time the lead story was a hockey one.

The reaction coming out of Buffalo has been, well, predictably that of a lot of horrified fans. Kevin Pritchard from BfloBlog, for one, was at the game with his five-year-old son.

It's a good thing they decided to leave early:
... tonight, I was happy to make it home without missing more than a minute of action AND getting to avoid explaining to my son what was happening, simply due to the timing. Of course I am happy the Sabres gutted out a win after blowing a lead, but I am most happy that it appears Richard Zednik is going to live. And based on the DVR I saw, it was genuinely a matter of life and death.
Some fan sites even have photographic evidence of the aftermath on the ice, and it isn't pretty.

The Miami Herald's Panthers beat writer George Richards has been providing updates on his blog. The fellows from The Ultimate Sports Road Trip were also at the game and have a good written account.

Just as shaken up (or perhaps more so) than the fans in attendance were players on the ice, some of whom were still on edge when answering questions about the incident postgame. "My mind was not on the hockey game," Panthers captain Olli Jokinen said. "If it was my call, I would have gone to the hospital with him."

This will likely become a major talking point in the aftermath, but I think the game should have been stopped. It's a lot to ask of players to have them play for points in the standings after seeing a near-death accident first hand. "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 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.”

"It's something you never want to see," a choked up Stephen Weiss said. "It's the worst thing I've ever seen in hockey. The worst went through my mind.... Just his face [when he was] coming off [the ice], was just, you know, something you don't want to see. I don't know how to explain it, but it was a scary look. He looked very scared."

"Basically, his life was in jeopardy," Jassen Cullimore said.

Added Jokinen: "It makes you feel sick."

The good news is that Zednik is going to be fine, although no details about his return to hockey have been made available. "The surgery was successful and he's resting comfortably in the hospital," Panthers spokesman Brian Goldman said.

It's been a little less than 19 years since Sabres netminder Clint Malarchuk suffered a similar injury, and here's hoping they continue to remain at least that rare.

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At 6:44 a.m., February 11, 2008, Blogger Darren Barefoot said...

I'm glad Zednik is stable. I was searching for articles related to this story, and found that it was a good study in writing headlines:

If you ask me, "Panthers' Richard Zednik Injures Neck" is underselling it a bit.

At 6:47 a.m., February 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree they shouldn't have finished the game. How can you concentrate on a game after being shaken up by something like that?

When Jiri Fisher's heart stopped on the bench in Detroit against the Predators, there wasn't even a question of the game continuing. Once it was clear how serious the situation was, the Nashville players had already started showering and getting changed - those who weren't getting news updates from Robert Lang, mostly former teammates from previous Czech national teams.

At 11:47 a.m., February 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Paul Kelly,

In Europe you have to wear a shield and a neck/throatguard to play professional hockey.

Do something about it.


At 1:07 p.m., February 11, 2008, Blogger alyosha mcbain said...

Did an incident like this ever occur before the Malarchuk incident? My limited grasp of ancient NHL history says no, but if anyone knows differently I am (morbidly) curious.

Glad to see Zednik is recovering nicely; between Danny Boyle, Pat DaPuzzo, and him it has been a horrible year for guys getting cut with skates.

At 1:49 p.m., February 11, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This never would have happened if we didn't have the instigator penalty.

At 2:20 p.m., February 11, 2008, Blogger Hawerchuk said...

Just after the Malarchuk incident, neckguards became mandatory in the hockey league I played in as a kid.

I still wear my neckguard in rec hockey - I hear jokes about it every few games. Guys think it's wimpy to wear one...Maybe this will change their minds?


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