Grantland.com revisits Malarchuk injury with ‘Cutthroat’
blog by Ben Kirst • May 29, 2013 @ 2:36pm
I was in the stands on Feb. 10, 2008 at (the venue formerly known as) HSBC Arena when Florida Panthers’ winger Richard Zednik had the carotid artery in his neck sliced open by teammate Olli Jokkinen’s skate blade. There was a lot of blood. It was horrifying. Zednik, of course, lived, and went on to play another season in the National Hockey League.
This injury—gruesome as it was—was not as bad as the horror that befell Buffalo Sabres goaltender Clint Malarchuk on March 22, 1989 at the old Memorial Auditorium. On a rush to the front of the net, St. Louis Blues’ forward Steve Tuttle’s skate slashed through Malarchuk’s jugular vein, resulting in a near-fatal injury. While Malarchuk, a former all-star, recovered to play for another eight seasons in professional hockey, the mental trauma from the situation exacerbated a preexisting case of obsessive compulsive disorder. Malarchuk struggled for years—veering within centimeters of suicide—to find an anchor in life.
Grantland.com’s latest short film in its acclaimed 30 for 30 series, ‘Cutthroat,’ is a look at Malarchuk’s battle with the demons unleashed by that fateful night at The Aud. The film is tough to watch—even after all of these years, even knowing what’s coming next, watching the blood pour from Malarchuk’s neck and listening to Mike Robitaille’s commentary from the live broadcast—“Oh, God, please take the camera off of it,” the fear in his voice palpable—is absolutely terrifying.
Here’s how Grantland.com describes the piece:
The latest film is Cutthroat, by award-winning director Steven Cantor. Clint Malarchuk was famous for being an NHL goalie, but he would go down in hockey history for suffering one of the most gruesome injuries in the history of sports when an opposing player’s skate severed his carotid artery. This story covers Malarchuk’s miraculous physical recovery from the injury as well as the long and grueling emotional recuperation that took two decades and included an eventual stay in a mental hospital for PTSD treatment. [Warning: This film contains graphic footage of the injury.]
(Note: in various places, I have seen Malarchuk’s injury referred to as either a cut on his jugular vein or carotid artery—the Grantland.com excerpt above goes with carotid artery, for example. Based on this AP article from March 24, 1989, in which Malarchuk himself refers to it as a jugular injury, I am going with that particular categorization).