BUFFALO, N.Y. – Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik required lifesaving surgery after severing his carotid artery, his agent told The Associated Press on Monday.
Zednik had surgery Sunday night and was in stable condition at a Buffalo hospital after losing a significant amount of blood during the game at Buffalo earlier in the day, agent David Schatia said. Schatia didn't have further details because he had just arrived in Montreal following a trip oversees.
Zednik was sliced across the right side of the throat by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate in a frightening accident midway through the third period of Buffalo's 5-3 victory.
Canada's Sportsnet cable-TV network reported on its Web site that the skate blade just missed cutting the jugular vein.
The Panthers returned home to South Florida following the game. They did not have an immediate update on the player's condition or details of the severity of the injury.
Zednik was circling the net behind the play and skating into the corner just when Jokinen was upended by Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur. Jokinen fell headfirst to the ice, and his right leg and skate flew up and struck Zednik directly on the side of the neck.
Clutching his neck, Zednik left a trail of blood as he somehow had the capacity to race three-quarters the length of the ice to the Panthers bench. He nearly fell into the arms of trainer Dave Zenobi, who immediately placed a towel on the player's throat. With the help of defenseman Jassen Cullimore, Zednik was escorted up the tunnel behind the bench and loaded into an ambulance.
Zednik, a 12-year veteran, is in his first season with the Panthers. The team made arrangements to have his wife, Jessica, fly from South Florida to Buffalo by a charter flight Sunday night. Zenobi and assistant general manager Randy Sexton also stayed behind to be with Zednik, the Panthers said.
When Zednik was with Montreal he sustained a severe concussion, broken nose, bruised throat and cut eyelid following a vicious blow to the face by Boston's Kyle McLaren during the 2002 playoffs.
Zednik was knocked cold, had to be taken off the ice on a stretcher and spent the night in intensive care.
McLaren was suspended by the NHL for the rest of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals, missing the final two games of the series, which Montreal won in six games.
Zednik returned the following season to score a career-high 31 goals and match a career high with 50 points.
"I saw him when they carted him to the hospital and said, `Oh, my god. I'd be surprised if this guy ever walks again,"' Schatia said. "He's a tough guy."
Zednik signed with the Panthers as a free agent last summer. After a two-month slump, he has been playing well. He entered the game on a four-game point streak, in which he had six goals and three assists, giving him 26 points (15 goals, 11 assists) in 54 games this season.