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Congrats to Richard Zednik ... Goodbye to Richard Zednik

Zednik Just got off a plane and got a number of interesting bits of news regarding Richard Zednik.

First off, Zednik is one of three finalists for the Masterton Award along with Chris Chelios and Steve Sullivan. After what Zednik went through last year, you have to think he's going to win this thing.

Of course, the NHL may not give it to a player no longer in their league. I kid, of course. I know I voted for him.

According to the team's official website (which I had to have translated), Zednik is now a former member of the Florida Panthers as he has signed a contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL in Russia.

In two seasons with the Panthers, Zednik played in 124 games, scoring 32 goals with 27 goals.

But he'll forever be known for that night in Buffal when he was struck in the neck by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate. The incident happened on Feb. 10, 2008, and Zednik almost lost his life. Doctors on the scene and at Buffalo General saved his life, and Zednik returned to the Panthers in the summer primed for a big season. He didn't really get one, but he had a solid season.

Here's what I wrote when he was nominated for the Masterton Award on April 1:

Florida winger Richard Zednik has been selected by the Florida chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association as the team's nominee for the annual Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance in returning to the ice after a horrific injury on Feb. 10, 2008.

Zednik, who sustained a severed carotid artery after being accidentally cut by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate, missed the end of the 2007-08 season but returned this season. Zednik scored in the second period of Tuesday's game, his 200th career goal.

''I'm pretty surprised, I can't believe it,'' Zednik said Tuesday morning. ``It's a great honor to be nominated for a trophy. We'll see what happens. It's a nice surprise.''


The Panthers have never had a player win the Masterton, an award given annually to the NHL player who ''best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.'' The award honors the late Bill Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars who died on Jan. 15, 1968, as a result of an on-ice injury. The award will be given out at the 2009 NHL Awards show June 18 in Las Vegas.

''Until your are in a situation like that, you don't know how you would react,'' coach Pete DeBoer said. 'You could make a pretty good case for saying, `I made enough money.' He'd be able to put his feet up, enjoy his wife and kids and call it a career. I give him all the credit in the world. He jumped right back in the fire.''

Added Zednik: ``I never had a question that I wouldn't come back. I was even more eager to come back and prove I could still play the way I was playing before.''