NHL goalie hurt in '89 shuns video of neck wound – Chron
SHERWOOD PARK, Alberta — By Monday night, nearly 600,000 had gone onto YouTube to view the horrific replay of Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik having his carotid artery severed by a teammate's skate the night before.
Clint Malarchuk wasn't one of them.
He refused even to turn on ESPN Monday, not wanting to stumble onto the horrifying sight everybody in hockey was talking about.
"After going through what I went through, after living through the same thing, I don't want to see it," Malarchuk said during a telephone interview Monday, a day when he received 50 requests for interviews.
On March 22, 1989, at the old Aud in Buffalo — eerily just a block from where Zednik was injured Sunday — Malarchuk, while tending goal for the Sabres, had his jugular vein slashed by St. Louis forward Steve Tuttle.
Malarchuk needed surgery to save his life, 300 stitches to close the wound and today has a 4-inch scar on his neck. He was in serious but stable condition.
"I looked at (referee) Terry Gregson, his eyes were way wide and he screamed, 'Get this guy a stretcher. He's going to bleed to death,'" said Malarchuk, 46, now the Columbus goalie coach. "I said, 'I'm not waiting for a stretcher,' and skated for the exit.
"I was scared, weak. I said to Pizza (former Sabres trainer Jim Pizzutelli, a former Vietnam medic who saved Malarchuk's life), 'Am I going to live?' Honest to God, I thought I was done. Blood was squirting everywhere, and I knew my mom was watching. I didn't want her to see her son die on live TV.
"So I don't want to see the (Zednik) tape. To this day, any time I see a throat-slashing scene in a movie, I cringe. I literally shiver."
Malarchuk plans to call Zednik "to see if he wants to talk." Zednik, 32, who was accidentally hit by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate, was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit of a Buffalo hospital Monday night. Surgeon Sonya Noor described Zednik's carotid artery as "hanging like a thread" when he arrived Sunday night.
"It was very scary," said Wild veteran Brian Rolston, who has seen the gruesome scene countless times on Canadian TV networks because the Wild plays in Edmonton tonight. "It's horrifying. ... For that amount of blood to come out at one time is just crazy. Thank God he had the presence of mind to cover it and get to the bench. But it's a freak, brutal, brutal accident."
Neck injuries are an inherent risk in a sport that's played with skate blades as sharp as knives.
Neck guards aren't mandatory in the NHL. At the amateur level, neck guards are required for all Canadian leagues. There are no mandatory requirements for neck guards at the USA Hockey national level or Minnesota Hockey. Two districts in Minnesota do require neck guards, said Mark Jorgensen, the executive director for Minnesota Hockey.
"This bring back memories, not good memories," Ramsey said. "I think of kids playing. If this happens at a (youth) rink, they're dead. They don't have the medical staff to prevent something like this, so it scares you. This is your worst nightmare as a hockey player, and I'm amazed it doesn't happen more."
Asked if his children wear neck guards, a choked-up Ramsey said: "One does, one doesn't. (Players) are too old and too cool to wear them. Well, watch the tape, and you'll put a neck guard on."
USA Hockey is conducting research to determine if neck guards really work. Dr. Michael Stuart, professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., is the Chief Medical Officer for USA Hockey and a member of the safety and protective equipment committee.
Stuart, a big reason why facial protection is mandated in the American Hockey League, got interested in neck guards on Halloween 11 years ago when his oldest son, Mike, sustained a severe neck laceration while playing hockey at Colorado College.
"We are very concerned because we know how catastrophic of an injury this can be," Stuart said. "We're trying to do everything we can to study everything we can to make recommendations based on scientific research.
"USA Hockey hasn't mandated (neck guards) yet. Maybe it's the right thing to do, but maybe it isn't."
Recently, 417,000 surveys were e-mailed to USA Hockey registrants. Members were asked if they had ever experienced or witnessed a neck laceration, and if they had, was the person wearing a "neck laceration protector."
"More people than you'd think have suffered neck lacerations," Stuart said. "Often these don't sever the carotid artery or other vital structures, but these are very frightening experiences. And many times, the person is wearing a neck laceration protector.
"Some (neck guards) don't cover your entire neck. In fact, some vulnerable areas are left uncovered. Some also fear that the skate blade can actually deflect off the protector to more vulnerable areas. So before we recommend a specific neck laceration protector, we'd like to have one that's proven to be effective."
"When you talk to NHL players (about) why they don't wear visors, they often say, 'Because I never have,'" Greenlay said. "But the guys who do wear them, they do because they have their whole life. It's the same philosophy for me. When my kids ride a bike, they wear a helmet. When they skate, they have all the protective gear, including neck guards, because then they won't know any different."
In the NHL, Rolston said neck guards are "every player's prerogative, and I don't think you're going to see a change where guys start wearing neck guards. Of course, if it happened to me, I'd probably have a neck guard on the next game."
Malarchuk said somebody needs to invent "a Kevlar turtleneck. Some neck guards I see kids wear don't come high enough. I know (NHL) players would complain about the heat and feeling constrained, but you know what?
"You get used to stuff. This is your life you're trying to protect."
Dallas has a seven-game winning streak for the fourth time in club history.
The Associated Press contributed the last item to this report.

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