Hockey

Zednik says throat slash felt like a stabbing

Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik recalled the gory details Thursday of the incident that could have cost him his life, telling reporters it felt like he was stabbed when teammate Olli Jokinen's skate accidentally slashed his throat.

Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik recalled the gory details Thursday of the incident that could have cost him his life, telling reporters it felt like he was stabbed when teammate Olli Jokinen's skate accidentally slashed his throat.

Addressing the media for the first time since suffering the injury during a Feb. 10 game in Buffalo, Zednik said he knew he had to get to the bench immediately after Jokinen's skate nearly completely severed his carotid artery.

"I remember exactly what happened and I knew exactly what I had to do," Zednik, 32, said at a Thursday afternoon press conference in Florida.

"I was on the ice and I knew it was pretty bad. I was waiting to see what will happen and then I see the blood, I was like, 'OK, this is it, I have to get up, hold it and get as soon as possible to the bench.' When I was there I was like, 'It was up to them now.'"

When he reached the bench he was helped by Panthers assistant trainer Dave Zenobi, who applied a towel to his neck to slow down the bleeding. At that point, Zednik began to fear for his life.

"A little bit," he said. "When I got to the bench I knew it was an artery and the way the blood was going, I didn't want to think about it. I knew I was in pretty bad shape, at that point I said it was up to them."

He was helped back to the Panthers dressing room before being escorted into a waiting ambulance. The pressure placed on his neck to contain the bleeding was so painful, he complained that he couldn't breathe.

"I was cut before in my face and I didn't even feel it. This time, it was kind of like a stab, I felt like somebody stabbed me," he said. "After it wasn't the pain, it was more what was going to happen.

"I kind of got a bit weaker when I got to the bench and then I don't remember much but I remember I was talking to our trainer Zenobi and a doctor was putting so much pressure on my neck I couldn't breathe. …

"I was just wishing, 'OK, let's go to the surgery, give me some injections so I'm going to be sleeping and I can wake up after.' It was painful just the pressure they were putting on my neck."

Zednik, who underwent emergency, life-saving surgery at Buffalo General Hospital to repair the artery, said he watched a video of the play once but doesn't plan to view it again.

He also said he plans to resume his NHL career, and will wear some sort of neck guard for protection.

Panthers coach Jacques Martin said Zednik will rest for a few weeks before having an ultrasound on March 18. The Florida forward will have to wait another month after that before he can resume training.

"We're very thankful that Richard will fully recover," said Martin. "He'll be able to enjoy life with his wife, beautiful daughter and continue with our organization, and that's what is most important."

Zednik's neck was cut open in the third period when Jokinen was upended and his right foot skate went into Zednik's path.

Moments later, Zednik kneeled forward with his hands at his throat, blood coming from his neck. He lost five units of blood in the gruesome accident, and was rushed to Buffalo General, where he was operated on by vascular surgeon Sonya Noor.

Zednik was discharged last Thursday and flew home to Florida the following day.