Zednik suffers deep neck cut during game

Monday, February 11, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik underwent surgery to close a deep gash on the right side of his neck and was in stable condition Sunday night after he was cut by a teammate's skate during a game.

"The surgery was successful and he's resting comfortably in the hospital," Panthers spokesman Brian Goldman said.

Blood gushed from Zednik's neck after he was hurt midway through the third period of Buffalo's 5-3 victory, creating a frightening moment that delayed the game for about 15 minutes. There was also a brief discussion about postponing the game altogether.

Zednik was behind the play and skating into the right corner of the Sabres' zone, when teammate Olli Jokinen was upended by Sabres forward Clarke Mac-Arthur. Jokinen fell head-first to the ice, and his right leg flew up and struck Zednik directly on the side of the neck.

Clutching his neck, Zednik raced to the Florida bench, leaving a long trail of blood. When he arrived, he nearly fell into the arms of a team trainer, who quickly applied a towel to the cut. Zednik was then helped off the ice by the trainer and teammate Jassen Cullimore, and escorted to the Panthers' dressing room.

"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. "

The injury left players and coaches on both benches stunned and a hush fell over the crowd.

NHL vice president Colin Campbell consulted with Sabres general manager Darcy Regier and referee Bill McCreary in a tunnel after Zednik was loaded into an ambulance. In a statement, the NHL said that Campbell talked to commissioner Gary Bettman and decided to continue the game after knowing that Zednik was stable and that trainers had stopped the bleeding.

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