FanDuel - WFBC

February 11, 2008

No Jokinen, Zednick's Throat Slashed During Hockey Game.: Florida Panthers' forward Richard Zednik had his throat slashed by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate in Buffalo Sunday night while playing against the Sabres. Zednik is in stable condition following surgery to repair a "deep gash" in his neck, and the Panthers are flying his wife Jessica to Buffalo to be with him.

posted by The_Black_Hand to hockey at 10:02 AM - 62 comments

Video of the incident, not for the sqeamish. It's not in this clip, but a classy move by Buffalo fans, who gave Zednik a standing ovation when it was announced that he was in stable condition and being transported to a local hospital.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 10:18 AM on February 11

Fan photos showing the extent of the blood loss. (by that way, that's a really lousy pun there!)

posted by mkn at 10:52 AM on February 11

I saw video of this on the news this morning, and I almost lost my breakfast. It doesn't happen often, but once is too much. Couldn't some sort of protective collar (think old USMC "leatherneck" uniform) be developed that would be flexible but still protect the jugular vein and carotid artery?

posted by Howard_T at 10:54 AM on February 11

Well, not to be glib, but the people of Buffalo know from slashed neck wounds. If this is going to happen to you, I'd venture that Buffalo might be as good a place to have it happen as anywhere. This has happened before. I can't watch that video. The Malarchuk one neither. I've eaten brains, I love squishy gooey stuff, but I've not been able to watch the highlights the last couple of days. I'm glad he's okay, and that everyone involved, including Zednik himself, had the presence of mind to act immediately when it happened.

posted by chicobangs at 10:57 AM on February 11

I'm surprised that they finished playing the game. I don't think I could have if I was a player. My knees would have been too wobbly to skate and I may have even needed a puke bucket.

posted by MrFrisby at 11:21 AM on February 11

In panning across the benches, all the players did look a little green afterward.

posted by chicobangs at 11:32 AM on February 11

The two most noteable injuries of this sort and they both happen in Buffalo. I watched the game last night, and have the replay on right now. Just thinking about what's about to happen makes me feel squeamish. The other players and fans present are all traumatized by something like this, especially with how the blood stands out on the ice surface. What is it with Buffalo and life-threatening sports injuries? First Kevin Everett, now Zednik? Thank God for skilled, well-trained emergency response personnel.

posted by dyams at 12:12 PM on February 11

In panning across the benches, all the players did look a little green afterward. They weren't the only ones.

posted by mkn at 12:13 PM on February 11

Couldn't some sort of protective collar (think old USMC "leatherneck" uniform) be developed that would be flexible but still protect the jugular vein and carotid artery? Howard_T, a neck guard is a required piece of equipment for youth hockey. They have already been developed and are readily available. Once a hockey player reaches the professional level, they are able to remove safety equipment. (Face cages, neck guards.) This was terrible to see, as was the Malarchuck video. Good luck to Zednick.

posted by BoKnows at 12:26 PM on February 11

A look back at what Clint Malarchuk went through several years ago.

posted by dyams at 12:33 PM on February 11

dyams, I've seen that video too many times so, if my comment is something that is also included in your video, I'm sorry. I just can't watch it anymore. I remember the trainer that ran on to the ice to help Malarchuk had used his thumb and index finger to "pinch" his jugular closed. He maintained that "pinch" for an extended time - from the ice to the helicopter - and in turn the muscles in his hand/finger were in essence "locked" in that position. Not long after that incident, the NHL made the use of neck protection mandatory for goalies. It was as simple as attaching a plastic form to the mask with some extra skate laces. The plastic form hung down over the throat and there hasn't been an incident since. (To my knowledge.) Now, the new style goalie masks are designed with that extension "built in". I would think that with todays technology and the materials available, the NHL could approve a design that would be similiar to a "turtle neck". Nothing more restrictive than what most of the players wore during the outddor game in Buffalo. Trainers can easily go unheralded, but this year both the NFL and NHL have had incidents that required quick thinking/execution of procedure. My thanks and respect to the trainers and medical personnel involved for their "lifesaving" techniques.

posted by BoKnows at 01:00 PM on February 11

dyams, I've seen that video too many times My link is a story, not a video. Believe me, I don't need to see it anymore, either.

posted by dyams at 01:17 PM on February 11

Trainers can easily go unheralded, but this year both the NFL and NHL have had incidents that required quick thinking/execution of procedure. My thanks and respect to the trainers and medical personnel involved for their "lifesaving" techniques. Word up to that.

posted by chicobangs at 01:24 PM on February 11

It's amazing to me that someone can sever a carotid artery and live to tell about it. I think the trainers and medical staffs that were the first responders on scene should be commended. Athletic trainers that work for any major sports league franchise are the best of the best and are a main reason that athletes recover from injuries that in years past would have ended a career and are more likely to recover or survive a life-threatening injury (i.e. Kevin Everett and others). One question, is this injury considered a career-ender or will he be able to make a comeback from this.

posted by erkno11 at 01:35 PM on February 11

Malarchuk came back and played the beginning of next season, and his incident was worse than this one. I don't doubt that Zednik could easily return, as long as this hasn't messed with his mind. Like it totally would to me.

posted by chicobangs at 01:39 PM on February 11

At first i heard it was his jugular, and i heard that it can't be colsed, so it's a really good to see he's alright, scary moment indeed.

posted by rockstar2001 at 01:44 PM on February 11

One question, is this injury considered a career-ender or will he be able to make a comeback from this. chico's right on. It may turn into a mental "block" for him. The same could be true for Jokinen. I guess the physical "recovery" time is relative to the player, but my guess is that he will do everything possible to get back on the ice.

posted by BoKnows at 01:52 PM on February 11

A mental block? It could turn out to be a whole lot worse than that. Remember that the guy suffered major blood loss. Furthermore, if it was the carotid (as some articles claim), you have the additional problem that direct pressure to deal with blood loss, also restricts the blood supply to the brain. Psychological after-effects are a lot less scary to me than the possibility of significant neurological trauma. Here's hoping there's good news soon.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 02:22 PM on February 11

I don't doubt that Zednik could easily return, as long as this hasn't messed with his mind. Simon Gagne is the one who needs to worry about his mind. He's on concussion #3 this season.

posted by MrFrisby at 02:31 PM on February 11

Not long after that incident, the NHL made the use of neck protection mandatory for goalies. I seem to recall Dominik Hasek not wearing one?

posted by jmd82 at 02:33 PM on February 11

I seem to recall Dominik Hasek not wearing one? I haven't found a picture of him wearing the plastic flap as I described above. But here is a pic that may indicate him wearing a neck guard attached to his chest protector, not his helmet. Another is here. It may not look like much, and I guess that's my point. The players could wear something similiar without much restriction.

posted by BoKnows at 03:49 PM on February 11

A mental block? It could turn out to be a whole lot worse than that. Agreed LBB. My comment was with the assumption that everything physical would be a-ok.

posted by BoKnows at 03:51 PM on February 11

I find it somewhat remarkable that he had the presence of mind to clamp his hand over his neck and skate immediately toward the bench. The way the vino was gushing out of his neck, that's a matter of seconds, not minutes, between stable condition and brain damage or death. I echo LBB's statement that if it was, indeed, the carotid artery, loss of oxygenated blood to the brain would be a major concern. The look on Jokinen's face as he stands by the bench waiting for info on his teammate is just pathetic. Poor guy looked like he needed a hug something fierce.

posted by The_Black_Hand at 04:03 PM on February 11

Unreal, these guys are the toughest.

posted by aMAIZEd Mark at 04:58 PM on February 11

Here's an update on the condition of Zednik.

posted by BoKnows at 06:39 PM on February 11

With most of the responses in this thread I assume it safe to say that not many of us would have the toughness required to play in the NHL. Especially after I read this: Malarchuk needed over 300 stitches but spent only one night in the hospital, returning to practice after four days.

posted by docshredder at 06:48 PM on February 11

Malarchuk needed over 300 stitches but spent only one night in the hospital, returning to practice after four days. According to the article dyams linked to, Malarchuk jokingly asked the medics if he could return by the 3rd period. Then again, his idea of fun is having super hard, frozen, galvanized rubber pucks shot at him in excess of 100 mph. The NHL definitely requires an elevated level of resiliency. I know I wouldn't have the toughness, I have been compared to a "whiny little school girl" at times.

posted by BoKnows at 07:02 PM on February 11

Bo knows whinny little school girls?

posted by jmd82 at 07:20 PM on February 11

mkn: That may be the most amazing fan reaction shot I've ever seen in a pro sports photo.

posted by grum@work at 08:19 PM on February 11

I know that I don't know a lot about hockey, and I understand that hockey is a tough, hard-nosed sport, but after an incident like this, doesn't it become time to start mandating full-coverage face masks, like I see a lot of in NCAA hockey? I cannot contemplate why the NHL allows players to skate with only visors on, or nothing but helmets. At some point, it becomes time for the league to step in and say, you will wear this for your own protection.

posted by Bonkers at 08:22 PM on February 11

We mandate neck guards in youth hockey, and you would not believe the number of folks who did not want to pony up for them (at a whopping 14 bucks....) at first. One email with the Malarchuck incident shut that right up. Think back on the days of no helmets... NHL has to be sensible if the players won't be.

posted by Hockeymom at 09:02 PM on February 11

Well, I'm not sure there should or will be too much outcry for these professionals to be required to wear neck protection. Two incidents in the last twenty years hardly constitute an epidemic of throat cutting injuries. And that's one incidence of a position player getting cut like that in the history of the game, no? Hey, Pronger had his heart stopped by a puck a few years back, but the NHL isn't requiring players to wear heart padding, are they? The bottom line is that freak accidents happen. Parents of youth players, good on you for protecting them. If you feel your child is at risk, by all means make sure they wear a neck guard. Professioinals, however, are grown men who can evaluate the risk of this happening again on their own terms and decide whether or not they want to wear a guard. To suggest the league impose a throat guard mandate is incredibly reactionary and pretty silly. There's plenty of nannying to go around our society, I think.

posted by tahoemoj at 02:07 AM on February 12

Two incidents in the last twenty years hardly constitute an epidemic of throat cutting injuries. Regardless of the rarity of injuries of this sort, what needs to happen before some sort of protection to the neck area is mandatory? Someone to die? Zednik lost almost a half-gallon of blood, and his artery was only held together by a mere thread (according to doctors). A 1-1/2 inch deep cut that just missed causing much more major damage is close to meaning Zednik's funeral could very easily have been being planned today. Hockey players in other parts of the world have died from this, and coming up with required, accepted protection shouldn't be a problem.

posted by dyams at 07:23 AM on February 12

By that logic though, no one would ever fly because the odd plane does crash. One Christmas my aunt gave us all these weird-ass hammers built specifically for breaking out of your own car after a crash. I think they all got thrown out within a week; if I kept every safety device made for a specific type of accident, I wouldn't be able to get into a car or out of my own way.

posted by yerfatma at 07:27 AM on February 12

Regardless of the rarity of injuries of this sort, what needs to happen before some sort of protection to the neck area is mandatory? I don't think you can say "Regardless of the rarity of injuries of this sort" and then ask about regulating protection, because of course the frequency of an incident is a factor in the decision to take protective measures. You can easily die if your carotid artery is gashed; you can also easily die if your femoral artery is gashed, but is there a call to mandate inner-thigh protection to prevent a skate cutting the femoral artery? Apparently no one feels the need to do this, yet if someone were to get a femoral artery gashed open by a skate tomorrow, suddenly a lot of people would retroactively discover this pressing danger that calls for immediate regulation. I'm not an anti-regulation type, just so you know. I appreciate the role that protective equipment plays in helping to mitigate the inherent unsafeness of certain activities. I just think that, if you really are concerned about safety, you need to adopt new safety standards with a clear understanding of what they buy you, and not just out of some vague feel-good sense of, "It might help."

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:32 AM on February 12

You can easily die if your carotid artery is gashed; you can also easily die if your femoral artery is gashed, but is there a call to mandate inner-thigh protection to prevent a skate cutting the femoral artery? The neck area is, basically, the only area of truly exposed skin or body on a hockey player (other than the face). Any type of protection would at least serve to hopefully keep a wound of this sort from being as deep or potentially damaging. Who knows, really. It's not me out there, so if the players don't care, have at it. I have respect for the ones who utilize the safety equipment that's available, though, even though it means risking their tough-guy reputation. As others have mentioned, Zednik's body will heal, but the mental repercussions of what happened may impact his play more than anyone can imagine.

posted by dyams at 08:29 AM on February 12

We could have a lenghty discussion regarding the need for improved saftey regarding the players equipment. (helmets included) We could dissect each injury and probably come up with a possible solution. But this one is simple. As I stated above, the inclusion of a simple "turtle neck" type shirt collar could easily prevent this unfortunate event from happening again. Yes, I know skate blades are sharp. (I played alot of hockey from ages 5-25.) I also used to wear a neck guard as a youth player. (Admittedly, they were not comfortable and they also were quite hot.) The shirt collar could act as a "buffer" and in my opinion, could prevent the blade from touching the skin. I feel that is all that is needed. No major equipment overhaul. Just a double layer shirt. Easy.

posted by BoKnows at 09:16 AM on February 12

One or two comments by NHL players concerning neck guards I read today claim that they are uncomfortable and cause the player to sweat. Something made of a Kevlar mesh (used for tire cords and bulletproof vests) should be light enough in weight and provide enough porosity to allow air circulation.

posted by Howard_T at 09:25 AM on February 12

dyams: I have respect for the ones who utilize the safety equipment that's available, though, even though it means risking their tough-guy reputation. I think it's premature to assume that the "tough-guy reputation" is the reason why NHL players don't wear neck guards. When athletes don't use an optional piece of protective equipment, in my experience, it's because they feel the benefit is mixed or nonexistent or comes with an added disadvantage, such as discomfort, lack of function, impaired vision, etc. As others have mentioned, Zednik's body will heal, but the mental repercussions of what happened may impact his play more than anyone can imagine. Actually, Zednik seems to be better mentally and is already asking when he can return to training -- what I would say is still somewhat in doubt is that his "body will heal". He's in intensive care, in stable condition, which is a long way from okay. When doctors sound happy and optimistic in these situations, it means that the patient is doing as well as they could have expected at this point, given the gravity of the injury. It does not mean that they "will heal".

posted by lil_brown_bat at 09:31 AM on February 12

I think it's premature to assume that the "tough-guy reputation" is the reason why NHL players don't wear neck guards. It's not premature to think that way, LBB. The "tough guy" mentality is alive and well on a hockey rink and has been for a long time. (Helmets were not always mandatory, not even for goalies.) There are many amateur mens league players that choose not to wear certain pieces of equipment. I have played with many that don't wear shoulder pads, leaving only elbow/hand protection on the upper torso. (I guess with the idea that they are too "tough" to get hurt.) Once out of college, players can remove the facial cage attached to helmets. In fact, Jacques Plante, player and inventor of the first goalie mask once said (and I loosely quote) " Wearing the new mask has allowed me to play a more aggressive style of goaltending." Yes, you're right to assume that there could be an added disadvantage to the donning of said equipment (due to comfort), but obviously, there is also a substantial disadvantsge to not having proper protection when an injury occurs. It seems like it's a "roll of the dice". I'll err on the side of safety. You are a skiing fan, right? If a downhill skier decided to remove his helmet because of a comfort issue, we'd call him crazy. Sure, he might be so good that he won't take a tumble down the mountain, but the safety measures are there just in case it does happen. I'd rather see players safe and alive, than tough and injured (or dead).

posted by BoKnows at 09:52 AM on February 12

Yes, you're right to assume that there could be an added disadvantage to the donning of said equipment (due to comfort), but obviously, there is also a substantial disadvantsge to not having proper protection when an injury occurs. You also have to look at the effect of the equipment on how people act. For years cars have gotten safer, but highway fatalities per mile driven have stayed fairly static (though fatalities per accident have dropped a great deal). Economists suggest this is due to people feeling safer with seat belts, airbags, anti-locks and thus driving more recklessly.

posted by yerfatma at 10:05 AM on February 12

You also have to look at the effect of the equipment on how people act. True enough. That's the very mindset Jacques Plante had. But the NHL's individual franchises are paying these players hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars to perform for thier team for an extended period of time. Wouldn't it be wise to do everything you can to insure the safety and longevity of your investment? So, the player ends up with a little extra neck sweat, big deal. The NHL wants to clean up the game with rule changes and longer suspensions/fines in order to send a message to the players, all with the intention of preventing injury. (all of which I'm in favor of) However, I have seen very little change take place to help prevent injury during legal play. All in all, this was a freak thing. Jokinen was up-ended, causing his skate to be at head-level off the ice. I don't think this will happen frequently or, in the eyes of the NHL, become a common problem. It happened and it's unfortunate that the players and fans had to witness such a horrific thing.

posted by BoKnows at 10:29 AM on February 12

For years cars have gotten safer, but highway fatalities per mile driven have stayed fairly static In the example of automobiles and fatalities, what most come down to is someone not choosing to snap on a seatbelt which would keep them from being ejected from the vehicle (which is the main reason most people are killed in accidents where they could have likely survived). Race driver Dale Earnhardt felt he didn't need the HANS device in his car which other drivers were using, and that wound up costing him him life. NASCAR, in my mind, is a good example. Fatalities as compared to the number of races without deaths are very infrequent, but when something serious happens, certain devices are made mandatory. And lbb, I'm glad Zednik is anxious to get back on the ice, but the only true test of his mental state and ability to deal with this incident is how he acts when he resumes game action.

posted by dyams at 10:30 AM on February 12

BoKnows: You are a skiing fan, right? If a downhill skier decided to remove his helmet because of a comfort issue, we'd call him crazy. Sure, he might be so good that he won't take a tumble down the mountain, but the safety measures are there just in case it does happen. But in ski racing, it does happen, all the time, to everybody -- unlike hockey skates to the neck. Ski racers take falls all the time, in racing and in practice, whose consequences are greatly mitigated by the wearing of a helmet. It's really not a "just in case" thing. To give an example, in a downhill last month in Kitzbuhel (not the Hahnenkamm), six out of sixty racers crashed and did not finish. Here's a pretty gnarly vid of one of them, Scott Macartney of the US ski team (don't watch if you're squeamish...really). His helmet stayed on for two smashes, which is no doubt why Scotty Mac didn't get a skull fracture and lived to tell the tale, but he's got a bad enough brain bruise even with the helmet that he's probably done for the year.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:32 AM on February 12

Lbb, Thanks for the example, and I see your point regarding the frequency of skiing incidents vs. the infrequency of a hockey skate slash to the neck. What I would hate to see is a sport riddled with injury and nothing being done about it. I'm not sure what it takes to require an increased level of safety equipment, but I sure hope it doesn't involve another incident like this one.

posted by BoKnows at 10:53 AM on February 12

what most come down to is someone not choosing to snap on a seatbelt which would keep them from being ejected from the vehicle (which is the main reason most people are killed in accidents where they could have likely survived) That's oddly phrased, but doesn't invalidate my point: people are more likely to choose not to put on a seatbelt because they think the car's safer. Also, it looks like "main reason" is only true when it comes to passengers. It's about 50/50 for drivers. That FARS site appears to be my tax dollar at work and I have to say I'm pleased with it.

posted by yerfatma at 11:07 AM on February 12

One Christmas my aunt gave us all these weird-ass hammers built specifically for breaking out of your own car after a crash You should hang on to them. If your car does go into the water, it may be the only way to get out in time. They had an episode of MythBusters and those "weird-ass hammers" were the only quick way the driver was able to get out of the car before it filled up with water. I'm not sure what it takes to require an increased level of safety equipment, but I sure hope it doesn't involve another incident like this one. It takes more than a fluke injury to get people to mandate safety equipment (or changes). The fact that the player had to be basically standing on his head in order to swipe his skate across the other player's neck seems to indicate this isn't going to be an even-uncommon occurrence. That said, if they could come up with some semi-sturdy (but bendable) collar for the jerseys, I think most players wouldn't have a problem with them.

posted by grum@work at 11:41 AM on February 12

By that logic though, no one would ever fly because the odd plane does crash The analogy of not flying because of the odd aircraft accident doesn't really hold up. Nearly every aircraft accident has, after thorough investigation into the probable cause, resulted in some improvement to aviation safety. It might be better equipment, better procedures, or better training, frequently adopted over strident objections from the airlines, but the industry learns through its errors. I should think that the NHL could do the same thing, despite the complaints of the players.

posted by Howard_T at 11:55 AM on February 12

But Howard, if you're going to go the "we can always learn from an accident" route, you have to be willing to accept whatever you do learn -- even if that's not, "...and here's a clever technique/gadget/procedure we can use to gain an increase in safety."

posted by lil_brown_bat at 12:09 PM on February 12

I think you might be surprised how much resistance you'd get from the players on wearing neck guards. Some years ago I read a great first-hand account of the first training camp and season for a DE in the NFL (sorry, source forgotten). One of the themes was how quickly players tried whatever they could to get an advantage, including dumping every piece of protective gear they could get away with. WRs cutting down their shoulder pads to reduce weight, not wearing a cup unless you were on special teams, anything they could think up. Pro athletes are extremely competitive, they know they only have a small window to play and they have trouble accepting that anything could hurt them; unless they literally didn't even notice they were wearing a neck guard a lot of players would ditch it at the first opportunity.

posted by deflated at 12:15 PM on February 12

They had an episode of MythBusters and those "weird-ass hammers" were the only quick way the driver was able to get out of the car before it filled up with water. I appreciate why the hammer is shaped the way it is* and the effects of water pressure. My wife and I disposed of our hammers humanely years ago with the tacit agreement that if either of us ever died because we couldn't get out of a car, some acknowledgment of my aunt's wisdom would be placed on the tombstone. Of course, I never wore a cup in a dozen years of athletics, including 5 years of lacrosse. And that was after seeing a rather awful groin-lacrosse ball collision in my first season, so YMMV. *People have been breaking car windows with spark plugs long before anyone ever thought to turn the technique into a tool.

posted by yerfatma at 12:26 PM on February 12

Ah, so that's why they call you "Kiri Te Kanawa Jr." down at the karaoke bar. (too obscure?)

posted by chicobangs at 01:21 PM on February 12

So if you mandate that hockey players should wear neck protection because of two freak incidents in over twenty years, does that mean that javelin judges should wear steel toed boots all the time?

posted by mkn at 01:27 PM on February 12

does that mean that javelin judges should wear steel toed boots all the time? If her toes are located at that part of her foot and would be protected by steel-toed boots, then I say why not?

posted by dyams at 01:45 PM on February 12

The_Black_Hand It's not in this clip, but a classy move by Buffalo fans, who gave Zednik a standing ovation when it was announced that he was in stable condition and being transported to a local hospital.
FYI, here's the video of the fan's standing ovation after the announcement.

posted by hincandenza at 01:50 PM on February 12

If Kiri Te Kanawa is too obscure, I don't wanna be right.

posted by yerfatma at 01:57 PM on February 12

Ah, so that's why they call you "Kiri Te Kanawa Jr." down at the karaoke bar. Alessandro Moreschi would be more appropriate.

posted by Howard_T at 02:49 PM on February 12

It takes more than a fluke injury to get people to mandate safety equipment (or changes). The fact that the player had to be basically standing on his head in order to swipe his skate across the other player's neck seems to indicate this isn't going to be an even-uncommon occurrence. I agree that the chance of this exact scenario occuring again is probably nil. In the Malarchuk incident, it was due to players crashing the net, which happens all the time. But we are not talking about a multi-million dollar equipment overhaul. We are talking about what, $12-$15 per player. I understand that one or two incidents do not indicate a trend, but with such an inexpensive safety precaution option available, it is not necessary to wait for it to happen again. Or how about this novel idea, I think I read it above in some earlier posts. Wear a friggin' turtleneck!! The chance of a skate blade sustaining pressure enough to cut through a layer or two of fabric, and then cut the skin is not likely.

posted by BoKnows at 04:04 PM on February 12

Two skates to the head in one week. Earlier this week, linesmen Pat Dapozzo got caught up in a pile and got kicked in the face breaking his nose and requiring 20 stitches. As if that wasn't bad enough, a fight broke out after that and DaPozzo tried to get in and break it up with his nose splattered. Looks like both those guys picked a bad week to quit sniffing glue.

posted by MGDADDYO at 04:16 PM on February 12

BoKnows, I like your comment about wearing a turtle neck. Let's bring the Phil Esposito look back!

posted by MGDADDYO at 04:18 PM on February 12

This happened three times in twenty years that i can remember. It also happened back in 2006 to Rene Bourque of the Blackhawks. Here's a video

posted by bigpimp311 at 10:17 AM on February 14

Another update.

posted by BoKnows at 03:03 PM on February 16

You're not logged in. Please log in or register.