Clint Malarchuk: A Gruesome Injury

Associated Press file photo

On this date in 1989, Clint Malarchuk, the goalie of the Buffalo Sabres, suffered one of the most horrific injuries in sports history.

Here are some things you may not have known about Malarchuk, that night and the injury.

Clint Malarchuk was born in Grande Prairie, Alberta in 1961. He made his National Hockey League debut in 1981 with the Quebec Nordiques. He spent the next four seasons splitting time between the NHL and the minor leagues. In 1985, he was a full-time NHL goalie. After his time in Quebec, he played for the Washington Captials and then the Buffalo Sabres.

On March 22, 1989, the Sabres were playing the St. Louis Blues in Buffalo. With 4 minutes and 43 seconds remaining in the first period Uwe Krupp of the Sabres and Steve Tuttle of the Blues slid into Malarchuk. Tuttle’s skate blade sliced across Malarchuk’s neck, opening up a six-inch gash, severing the carotid artery and injuring the jugular vein.

Malarchuk slumped to his knees on the ice with blood pumping from the wound in his neck. Players for both teams turned to the benches and screamed for help. The referee, Terry Gregson, called for a stretcher. The Sabres’ trainer, Jim Pizzutelli, who had served as an army medic during the Vietnam War, pinched the artery and helped Malarchuk off the ice, not letting go of the wound until doctors arrived. His efforts helped save Malarchuk’s life.

There was so much blood on the ice that 11 fans fainted, two suffered heart attacks and three players vomited on the ice.

Malarchuk was cut out of his hockey equipment and transported to the hospital, where he received about 300 stitches to close the wound. He lost around a quarter of his total volume of blood.

In proving that hockey players are the toughest athletes out there, Malarchuk returned to practice four days later.

While the physical wounds healed quickly, the mental wounds lingered. Malarchuk said he suffered from nightmares about the injury, which developed into post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism. It also worsened a pre-existing case of obsessive-compulsive disorder. His performance declined and he was out of the NHL in 1992. He continued in the minor leagues for a few seasons before retiring.

In 2008, Richard Zednik of the Florida Panthers suffered a similar injury. Viewing footage of Zednik’s injury led Malarchuk to have a recurrence of post traumatic stress. Later that year, he survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. After recovering, he spent six months being treated for alcoholism, obsessive-compulsive disorder and PTSD.

He returned to the NHL as a goalie coach with three teams, most recently, the Calgary Flames.

Our question, The Quebec Nordiques moved to a new city and changed their name. What are they known as today?

Today is World Water Day.

It’s American Diabetes Association Alert Day, National Agriculture Day and National Sing Out Day.

It’s the birthday of actor and mime Marcel Marceau, songwriters Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber and actor William Shatner.

This week in 1989, the top song in the U.S. was “Lost in Your Eyes” by Debbie Gibson.

The No. 1 movie was “Fletch Lives,” while the novel “Star” by Danielle Steel topped the New York Times Bestsellers list.


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