It's been one year since Richard Zednik's gruesome accident in Buffalo, one year since Richard almost lost his life if not for quick thinking on his part as well as the fast reactions of team athletic trainer David Zenobi and Buffalo team doctor Les Bisson.
Richard met with the media today in Sunrise, saying he's well aware of the anniversary. He adds he's ready to put this whole thing behind him.
When asked how his perspective has changed since the accident, Zednik said, ''you enjoy everything a little bit more. You enjoy your time with your family, and like I said, with the guys in the locker room and playing hockey.
Said coach Pete DeBoer: ''It's amazing. When something like that happens to you, all kinds of things cross your mind, including whether or not you want to suit back up and get back out there. Considering where he was, it hasn't been easy for him. He's had a battle the first half of the year, but he's starting to play the best hockey at least since I've been here. That's a good sign.''
As far as Richard being more aggressive, PDeB says ''I don't know, but he's playing with more confidence, getting involved more. Getting into those battle areas. Where I think his game has picked up is in the battle areas with the defensemen on the other teams. Probably with the injuries, engaging in those areas is the biggest thing you have to overcome and not worry about. He seems to be above that.''
-- DeBoer and the Panthers are reiterating that the 'Playoff Promise' is just that. A promise.
And they made sure I knew the word guarantee was my word. Sure, that word wasn't included in the press release, but if it looks like a cat and smells like a cat, well, it might be a smelly cat.
''I think we all know we're trying to sell the game down here,'' PDeB said. ''From a team perspective as coaches and players, I think the word was we would give the fans a promise that we'll do everything we possibly can to get into the playoffs this year. I don't think there's any secret in that. The promise you're talking about is that it's a promise on the business end that they'll reward fans with tickets next year.
''But I think guarantee is too strong a word. It never came up in my conversations. You better re-read [the press release]. But it's important. We want this market excited about this team. These guys have worked awful hard to put ourselves in a position here with 30 games left that we're challenging for a playoff spot for the first time in seven years. We want people in the seats, we want people here. We're going to do everything we possibly can to make sure these last 30 games are our best.''
-- Radek Dvorak was back on the ice today and should play against the Leafs.