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Mad in Montreal

Habs' Zednik in hospital with concussion, facial injuries

Posted: Friday April 26, 2002 12:22 PM
Updated: Friday April 26, 2002 4:16 PM
  Richard Zednik Medical personnel tend to Montreal's Richard Zednik, who was knocked unconscious by a hit by Boston's Kyle McLaren. AP

MONTREAL (AP) -- Richard Zednik of the Montreal Canadiens, knocked unconscious by a blow to the face by Boston's Kyle McLaren, has a severe concussion, broken nose, bruised throat and a cut on the right eyelid.

The Slovak winger was moved out of the Montreal General Hospital's intensive care unit Friday morning, but will remain hospitalized until Saturday for observation, a team spokesman said.

He was admitted Thursday night after lying motionless on the ice for five minutes following an elbow from McLaren late in the game.

Zednik is not expected to play again during the NHL playoffs, the club said. It is the second concussion of his career, the first coming when he was with the Washington Capitals.

His injury prompted an angry reaction from Canadiens fans.

"Habs Outgunned, Outgooned" was the banner headline in the Montreal Gazette, while the Journal de Montreal called the game, which Boston won 5-2 to tie the best-of-seven series 2-2, a "vicious and disgraceful match."

McLaren Suspended
Boston and Montreal have been warned by the NHL to keep their emotions under control following a vicious hit on Canadiens forward Richard Zednik by Kyle McLaren of the Bruins.

"It's not left to the individual clubs to seek justice," commissioner Gary Bettman said Friday. "That's our job, and the clubs know that."

McLaren is serving an automatic suspension for at least one game after he put Zednik in the hospital with a crushing elbow to the face Thursday night in Game 4 of the teams' playoff series.

A disciplinary hearing this weekend will determine the length of the suspension.

"He got a match penalty and he deserved it," Bettman said. "I think our record is very consistent in penalizing acts that go over the line swiftly, appropriately and harshly, and that's what we'll do there."

After the game, Canadiens coach Michel Therrien talked of retaliation against the Bruins during Saturday's game.

"Sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things that they regret and shouldn't say," Bettman said in an interview with a group of Associated Press Sports Editors. "We've been in touch with both clubs, and they understand our view that the temperature should be taken down a few notches, and our expectation is that it will.

"I can understand seeing your player like that why the coach would be upset, but that doesn't mean that any on-ice threat coming to reality would be appropriate. It would be to the contrary, and the clubs understand that."

Zednik remained hospitalized Friday with a severe concussion, broken nose and cut under the right eye. He'll miss the remainder of Boston's playoff series with Montreal, according to the Canadiens' team doctor, Richard Mulder.

Zednik was admitted to Montreal General Hospital's intensive care unit after the hit by McLaren late in Thursday's game. He was motionless on the ice for five minutes before being carried off on a stretcher.

McLaren has said he did nothing wrong, and on Friday said he regretted the incident happened.

"I'm not out there to hurt anybody," McLaren said. "I wish him the best and I'm very sorry he got hurt. It's a split-second thing."

Zednik scored both Montreal goals in Boston's 5-2 loss and was the team's leading scorer in the series with eight points. The best-of-seven series is tied at two games each.

Canadiens general manager Andre Savard on Friday said McLaren should be suspended for the rest of the playoffs.

Veteran Montreal Gazette columnist Red Fisher called McLaren's hit "the mother of all cheap shots."

Zednik was taken off the ice on a stretcher. Fights ensued and an irate Montreal coach Michel Therrien threatened retaliation against the Bruins' top players in Game 5 on Saturday in Boston.

"If they try to go after our best players, if that's part of [Boston coach Robbie] Ftorek's strategy, we have no choice -- we'll go after theirs," said Therrien, red-faced with anger after the game.

When asked if his threat will only escalate the violence, Therrien said: "I don't care. This is what they did and this is what we're going to do."

On Friday, the Canadiens called in some muscle from their AHL affiliate in Quebec City. Matt O'Dette, a 6-foot-5, 221-pound defenseman, had 136 penalty minutes, along with seven goals and an assist, in 48 games with the Citadelles this season.

Ftorek refused comment on the incident, but McLaren said he did nothing wrong.

"I felt I him hit with my shoulder and the back of my arm and that was it," McLaren said. "It all happened so fast.

"They gave me five [minutes] and a match [penalty] and I'll live with that. I've played seven years and 400 games and never received a suspension. I don't go out on the ice trying to hurt anybody."

Bruins goalie Byron Dafoe called it a clean hit.

"I think he was out before he hit the ice," Dafoe said. "It was a hard hit, but I don't think it was dirty. Kyle wasn't headhunting out there."

Bruins assistant GM Jeff Gorton told the Boston Herald, "We just watched the replay 10 times. I hope the kid is OK. But it was a clean hit. McLaren hit him with his tricep.

"No way should there be a suspension. I'd be shocked if there was. The guy is coming full speed and he cuts in on him, and Kyle is trying to stop him. There was nothing dirty about it at all."

Zednik scored both of Montreal's goals on power plays and leads the team in scoring with eight points in four games.

Both Therrien and Montreal enforcer Gino Odjick compared McLaren's hit on Zednik to the elbow thrown by Tie Domi on New Jersey defenseman Scott Niedermayer during last year's playoffs, which resulted in an eight-game suspension for Domi.

"The precedent has been set -- he should be suspended for eight games," Odjick said. "It's just like Domi last year.

"I'd like for the league to treat everybody the same. When you try to injure someone with a hit to the head, you're suspended for the rest of the series. You can't have different rules for different players."

Therrien and Ftorek had a shouting match at the benches, and the game ended with more fighting in the final minute. A few fans among the jeering capacity crowd of 21,273 threw beer and soda at the Bruins' bench.

Zednik appeared to taunt Dafoe after scoring his second goal of the game, perhaps hoping to put the Bruins' goalie off his game.

In Game 3 on Tuesday night, Dafoe allowed three third-period goals in a 5-3 comeback win for Montreal.

Related information
Ugly finish mars Bruins' series-tying win over Habs
Habs rally in third to win 5-3, take 2-1 lead in series
2002 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily Schedule
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