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Ice hockey player who had throat slit during game made split second decision which saved his life

Chris Byfield

| Last updated 

Ice hockey player who had throat slit during game made split second decision which saved his life

An Ice hockey player who once had his throat slit in a game made a split decision which saved his life.

The Florida Panthers’ Richard Zednik once lost five pints of blood when he suffered a horror injury on the ice.

In February 2008, the Czechoslovakian had his neck accidentally slashed by his own teammate, Olli Jokinen, during a game against the Buffalo Sabres, with Zednik's common carotid artery sliced by Jokinen’s blade.

The incident took place after Jokinen had become tangled up with the Sabres' Clark MacArthur.


The Panthers player fell head-first onto the ice, with his right leg flying into the air and colliding with Zednik’s neck.

The skate's blade severed Zednik’s carotid artery, but just missed his jugular vein.

Such an injury typically results in a massive haemorrhage, which leads to death, but Zednik was quick to react.

The Panthers forward, now 47, has since explained that, despite the agonising pain, he “knew exactly what he had to do”.


"It was like a stab, I felt like somebody stabbed me," he recalled. "It wasn't the pain, it was like 'what's going to happen?'"

He told a press conference at the time that he was aware his injury “was pretty bad”, and that he had to think fast.


Zednik continued: "We were waiting and I was like, 'What's going to happen, do I sit about?'


"I was like 'Ok this is it, I have to get up and get to the bench'. I did my job to get there."

Instead of waiting for medics on the ice, the star clutched his neck and skated to his team's bench - leaving a trail of blood in his wake.

Indeed, Zednik nearly collapsed into the arms of a trainer who was quick to apply pressure to the injury.

Zednik was then stabilised in the locker room by a team doctor and paramedics before being rushed to hospital.


So much pressure was being applied to Zednik’s neck that he “couldn't breathe”. Yet in saving precious seconds by skating over to the bench, the NHL star helped save his own life.

He continued: "I don't get to train for this experience, you know, I knew what happened and that I was in trouble.

"My job is to get up as soon as possible, because if somebody got injured then the trainer comes to the ice and everything, it takes time. I knew every second was important for me.

"So I was holding my neck and getting to the bench. That's what was on my mind, when it happened I was like 'I have to do this'".


Zednik underwent emergency surgery to repair the artery and remained in intensive care for around two days.

He missed the rest of the hockey season while recovering - but returned to play the following year.

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Featured Image Credit: Getty

Topics: Ice Hockey

Chris Byfield
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