- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 12, 2008

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik required lifesaving surgery after severing his carotid artery, but doctors never considered his life in jeopardy after the player had his carotid artery nearly severed by a teammate’s skate in a freak and frightening accident.

Zednik, who has played two stints with the Washington Capitals, underwent an hour of surgery to reconnect the artery Sunday night and was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Buffalo General Hospital yesterday. He was awake and cooperative with the medical staff, doctors said.

Zednik lost a significant amount of blood during the game at Buffalo earlier in the day, agent David Schatia said.

Attending surgeon Sonya Noor said there were no initial signs of brain damage, which is a fear whenever the carotid artery is clamped.

“So far, he looks very good. He’s awake, oriented,” Noor said. “He remembers what happened last night.”

Zednik was sliced across the right side of the throat by teammate Olli Jokinen’s skate midway through the third period of Buffalo’s 5-3 victory over Florida.

Canada’s Sportsnet cable-TV network reported on its Web site the skate blade just missed cutting Zednik’s jugular vein.

Sexton and Panthers assistant trainer Dave Zenobi stayed overnight with Zednik at the hospital Sunday.

Zednik was circling the net behind the play and skating into the corner 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 raced three-quarters the length of the ice to the Panthers’ bench. He nearly fell into the arms of 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. He spent parts of seven seasons with the Caps after the team drafted him in 1994. After scoring 63 goals from 1995 to 2001, the Caps traded him to the Canadiens.

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. He returned the following season to score a career-high 31 goals and match a career high with 50 points.

The Caps brought Zednik back before last season but traded him to the New York Islanders at the deadline.

He signed with the Panthers as a free agent last summer. After a two-month slump, he has rounded into form. 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.

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