Panthers winger Richard Zednik has been nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy after refusing to be sidelined by an in-game slicing so horrible it took 15 minutes to clean the ice so the game could resume.
The award, to be given on June 18 at the NHL 2009 Awards in Las Vegas, honors a player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey -- usually in overcoming injury or illness.
The award is named for late Minnesota North Stars player Bill Masterton, who likely never would have won it since he actually died in 1968 after hitting his head on the ice.
Zednik certainly fits the criteria.
In a game at Buffalo in February of 2008, his carotid artery was nearly severed by a teammate's skate in a horrifying accident. When Olli Jokinen was upended by Sabres forward Clarke MacArthur, his leg flew into the air and slashed Zednik in the neck as Zednik skated just behind the play.
A trail of blood followed Zednik as he skated toward the bench, where he folded into the arms of a trainer and was rushed off for an hour-long surgery. The carotid was "hanging by a thread," said attending surgeon Sonya Noor.
She noted Zednik had a "beautiful artery," which no doubt impressed the judges and will see Zednik through to the finals. Sacrificing an ugly carotid to the gods of hockey isn't nearly as admirable.
And the comeback part? Zednik scored his 200th goal last night in a win that keeps the Panthers' playoff dreams alive.
"I never had a question that I wouldn't come back," he told the Miami Herald. "I was even more eager to come back and prove I could still play the way I was playing before."
Janie Campbell is a Florida sports fan who regrets writing this story during lunch. Her work has appeared in irreverent sports sites around the Internet.