NHLer's speedy recovery a relief for close friends

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 7:19 AM ET

What happened to Florida Panthers winger Richard Zednik a week ago today has been well documented, and the fact he is on his way to a full recovery is great news considering the trail of blood he left behind after getting his neck slashed by the skate of a teammate.

Also hashed over in spades last week was what happened to Calgary product Clint Malarchuk.

As a member of the Buffalo Sabres some 20 years ago, he had his throat cut by a wayward skate. Like Zednik, only quick medical action saved his life and career on that fateful night.

Malarchuk is a good friend of mine who actually played third base for my old Molson Canadian slo-pitch team as he spent summers in our city.

My daughter, Debbie, adored the guy we called "Cobra", and when she saw a replay of what happened March 22, 1989, was on the telephone in an instant. She was crying uncontrollably and I couldn't understand what she was saying for several minutes, but eventually heard, "Clint's dead. Clint's dead."

I tried, without success, to calm her down, then told her I would check things out and get back to her. I phoned the Sabres' office and found out the name of the hospital where Clint was being treated. I then called the medical centre asking for a condition report on my friend.

Like Debbie, I feared the worst, having seen the pool of blood in front of Cobra the night before.

Instead of giving me an update on his condition, the nurse said, "Why don't you call back in five minutes and he can give it to you personally, but right now he's in the middle of a press conference."

That was less than 12 hours after the accident, and Clint was playing again in two weeks. To say both Debbie and I were relieved would be an understatement.

CRAFTY MAGIC MAN

Another glimpse into the past last week came when we marked the 20th anniversary of Calgary hosting the Winter Olympic Games. This one could have ended in tragedy, too.

I was at the airport picking up some Games clothing that all the volunteers got as part of the deal, and ran into former Calgary Flame forward Steve Tambellini who, like Jim Peplinski of the Flames, had been loaned to the Canadian Olympic team.

I had just stumbled onto a little trick where, with the aid of a certain powder, I could set off a brilliant flash that could be seen for miles but would last for less than a second.

We were in line when I showed off my trick. The flash resulted in a flurry of activity among the security guards, right down to the drawing of a gun.

I found out quickly that I did not impress the guards with my magical talents.

Some people never learn, and I was showing the same trick at McMahon Stadium a couple weeks later.

As the flash went off, so did the smoke alarm in the Stamps offices, and it happened while head coach Lary Kuharich was on the phone with a potential player.

He lost the call and the player, but never found out who was to blame.

I don't use that particular trick anymore.

A TIP FOR PREMIER ED

I'm not trying to sway the upcoming election, but I'd suggest Premier Ed Stelmach, if he wants to lock up a few votes in Calgary, might have another look at the request for funding for minor football turf fields at Shouldice Park.

The project is in need of $3 million from the province. Under Ralph Klein, the money was locked in, but the new regime put the project on the backburner.

Provincial money, I think, would lead to other private donations, and we could have three fields in operation to start the 2008 football season.

With turf fields at Shouldice Park, I bet it would be a season with no games cancelled and fewer injuries.


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