Work in Sports
Lindros, Primeau score in 2-2 tie at Montreal
Posted: Saturday January 29, 2000 10:13 PM
The slap shot from the Philadelphia defenseman during Saturday's 2-2 tie struck McCleary in the throat, causing a suspected fractured larynx and collapsed lung that required life-saving emergency surgery.
"I shot the puck, I saw him sliding, and it seemed like the puck was in slow motion," Therien said. "It didn't touch any of his equipment or his stick. It hit him square.
"I heard him breathing and I knew he was in trouble. That's why I called the trainer right away. He went down to make a great play for his team. I'm hoping he'll be OK."
McCleary, 27, was given a tracheotomy to help him breathe. He was in "critical but stable condition," Gillian Ross-MacCormack, a spokesman for McGill University Health Centre, said late Saturday night. McCleary was taken to Montreal General Hospital after the accident.
"The next 24 hours will be critical," team doctor Vincent Lacroix said. "I'm not at the point yet where I can say that he's out of danger.
"He was unable to breath and his upper airway was essentially obstructed from the significant bleeding that comes with this kind of injury," Lacroix said. "Associated with this trauma came the collapsed lung, so he has had to have a tube put in the decompress that lung."
The injury occurred midway through the second period after the puck hit the boards in the Montreal zone and Therien one-timed a shot towards the goal. McCleary slid to block the puck and was hit squarely in the throat.
He was helped to his feet but then collapsed and appeared to lose consciousness.
"I've never seen anything like this in all my years in hockey," Canadiens general manager Rejean Houle said. "I've never been so scared."
The Flyers and Canadiens each scored twice in the first period, but nothing after. The players, however, did not seem concerned with the outcome of the contest.
"I think that maybe sometimes we take the game for granted and then things like that can happen," Montreal's Benoit Brunet said. "I think everybody is shaken that something like that could happen to a good guy like that."
Keith Primeau scored his first goal for Philadelphia in only his second game since being acquired from Carolina.
"For the first time in a long time, I was really overcome with a lot of emotions," Primeau said. "It was nice to get that goal. I didn't realize how much of a relief it would be."
Craig Rivet had a goal and an assist and Turner Stevenson scored his first goal of the season for the Canadiens, unbeaten at home this month (3-0-3). Jeff Hackett, in his first start in seven games, stopped 38 Flyers shots, but his thoughts were also with McCleary.
"I love that kid, I just pray for him," Hackett said. "It just puts things in perspective. That kid will do anything for the team. That's the worst thing I can remember since (former Buffalo goalie) Clint Malarchuk got cut by a skate."
With Montreal leading 1-0 late in the first period, Primeau beat Hackett with a low wrist shot. Only 42 seconds later, Lindros scored his 19th goal to make it 2-1.
"It's been great," said Primeau, when asked about playing for the Flyers. "I say over and over that there's so many quality players in this lineup and I'm just trying to find my own little slot to get in there and contribute."
Rivet, who missed the last eight games with a groin injury, scored with 10 seconds left in the opening period and Hackett kept Montreal in the game. He stopped John LeClair in front twice in the third period and then denied Primeau twice in the final minute of regulation.
"We tried to keep it simple," Rivet said. "We did a great job against their top two lines and Jeff made some tremendous saves for us. That was the difference for us."
The Flyers' top ranked power play went 0-for-5.