PHILADELPHIA – Zach Redmond’s season with the Winnipeg Jets is over, but as more details are released about Thursday’s scary accident that sliced open a major artery on his leg, the more it seems he is lucky to be alive.
"I’ve been doing this for 12 years and that’s easily the most-grave incident I’ve been a part of, for sure," said Jets head athletic therapist Rob Milette today as the team arrived in Philadelphia and left their young defenceman behind at a hospital in Raleigh, N.C. ""He was answering our questions, he was talking with us. He was very alert. I can’t say enough about the guy. He was unbelievable. The trauma that he went through and how composed he was during the process.
"He lost a lot of blood there and his heart was definitely struggling. We were monitoring his vitals, checking his pulse. His pulse was really weak and really slow. He was pale. He was starting to tell us he was getting thirsty and that told us he had lost a lot of blood."
Just to recap the accident, the Jets had completed practice Thursday morning at PNC Arena in Raleigh in advance of Thursday night’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes when some of the players not dressing for the game were putting in some extra work. Redmond fell on his back in a drill and Antti Miettinen’s skate blade sliced through his right femoral artery and vein in his mid-thigh region. The rookie defenceman was taken to hospital and underwent a three-hour surgery.
Jets assistant athletic therapist Lee Stubbs stayed with Redmond at the hospital and, by night’s end, he was asking for updates on his team’s progress in the game. He is expected to remain in hospital for at least a week and was to be joined by his father sometime today. But the injury means his first season in the NHL is now over.
Milette said the surgery went well, but there were a lot of blood vessels, surrounding tissue and muscles that needed repair and they are a long way from being able to put a timetable on the recovery. The femoral artery was severed completely and damaged to the point where the surgeons had to take a piece from another vein and splice it into the main artery.
"Basically every main blood vessel in your leg that supplies blood to that lower limb was in trouble," said Milette. "We can only hope is recovery goes just as well as the surgery went. It’s way too early to tell (about recovery). There were so many things damaged it’s impossible to tell how his recovery is going to be."
Milette praised the work of those on the ice who helped, including Stubbs, assistant equipment manager Mark Grehan, assistant athletic therapist Brad Shaw, Miettinen, assistant coach Perry Pearn -- whose jacket was used as a tourniquet on the wound – and Anthony Peluso who, while crouching in a pool of blood, used his bare hands to help push the wound closed.
"It’s an unfortunate accident," said Miettinen, who still seemed shaken by the accident a day later. "It was my skate that hit it. I feel pretty bad about what happened. I hope everything goes well for Zach. For the short time that I’ve known him, he’s got a great will and spirit. I just hope the healing process goes well for him."