Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ugly, scary day ends with nice win on ice

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RALEIGH, N.C. -- It's the image of all that blood -- the giant pool of crimson on the ice, the red all over his teammates' socks, jerseys and hands -- that Ondrej Pavelec will remember most.

"I've never seen anything like that," said the Winnipeg Jets goaltender. "It was scary. You never want anybody to be in that situation. He's your teammate and your friend."

Yes, it was a bizarre day at the office for the Jets on Thursday, unlike any most of them have ever experienced in hockey. It began like so many others -- with the usual game-day skate in the morning -- and then morphed into an emotional few hours in which they waited for news from the hospital on the condition of defenceman Zach Redmond, who had the femoral artery and vein on his right thigh sliced open by a teammate's skate on a drill.

Pavelec, like a handful of others who were still in the building, rushed onto the ice after hearing a panicky call for the trainers in the dressing room.

That's when he saw the blood. That's when he saw a compadre taken away to hospital in an ambulance.

And then the Jets waited for updates. Some prayed. Some tried to sleep.

"The pre-game meal, where guys are usually pretty talkative, was pretty quiet," said captain Andrew Ladd. "We were all just thinking about Reds and hoping he was going to be all right. Once we heard his surgery went well, you can start breathing a little bit easier.

"It was shocking. I don't know how to put it anyway else. Your heart sinks into your stomach. It was just a really bad feeling seeing a teammate in pain and sitting on the ice in a pool of blood. It's not something you ever want to see."

The coaches told the players before the game Redmond's three-hour surgery was successful. But they carried the trauma into the opening period and, despite scoring first, were sloppy and repeatedly turned the puck over.

Still, they showed enough jam to take four different leads in the game and grind out a memorable win on a day many won't forget.

"It's been tough," said head coach Claude Noel. "It's been tough emotionally. Right now, your thoughts are with the player you have. Right now, I'm waiting to go talk to him and see how he's doing. That's what I'd like to do."

The Jets were to charter to Philadelphia immediately after the game, leaving Redmond behind at hospital. His family is scheduled to join him and then take him home to Michigan.

And news of Redmond's recovery? That's unknown right now. But here's a positive initial sign, relayed to Noel from Jets assistant athletic therapist/strength and conditioning coach Lee Stubbs, who stayed at the hospital:

"The people that were with him were saying the only thing he was talking about was, 'How are we doing in the game?' " said Noel. "That pretty much shows you where his heart is."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 22, 2013 C1

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