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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

March 22, 1989

Well, it's good to be back after taking a little bit of a break.  This here is the Tuesday Timeline for March 22, and I have to say that this was a date in which I certainly had a lot of possible topics to choose from.  I'll admit that narrowing down the field was not an easy task.  That being said, I think the topic I chose is one that best demonstrates how life can drastically change in the blink of an eye.

Before we go on with that though, let's have a look at some of the other events that took place on this date.

1622 - Algonquin Indians kill 347 English settlers around Jamestown, Virginia

1765 - British Parliament passes the Stamp Act

1829 - The United Kingdom, France, and Russia establish the borders of Greece in The London Protocol

1871 - William Woods Holden becomes the first American governor to be impeached

1887 - Actor/singer Chico Marx (d. 1961) is born in New York City

1894 - The first playoff game for the Stanley Cup is held

1923 - French born mime Marcel Marceau (d. 2007) is born in Strasbourg

1943 - In one of the most shocking events of World War II, the entire population of Khatyn, Belarus is burnt alive by German occupation forces

1945 - The Arab League is founded in Cairo, Egypt

1960 - The first patent for the laser is granted to Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes

1963 - The Beatles release their first album in the United Kingdom - "Please Please Me"

1972 - The United States Supreme Court rules that unmarried persons have the right to possess contraceptives

1975 - Residents of Decatur, Alabama are temporarily shaken when a fire at a nearby nuclear power plant causes a reduction in cooling water levels

1978 - Karl Wallenda falls to his death during an attempt to cross a tightrope between two hotels in San Juan, Puerto Rico - he was 73

1982 - Space Shuttle Columbia is launched from Kennedy Space Center on Mission STS-3

1993 - Intel ships its first Pentium chips

1994 - Singer Dan Hartman passes away of AIDS related complications, aged 40 - on the same day that animator Walter Lantz dies at the age of 94

1997 - Tara Lipinski becomes the youngest to win the Woman's World Figure Skating Championship, just two months shy of turning fifteen

1999 - Actor David Strickland takes his own life at just 29 years of age

2001 - Animator William Hanna dies at the age of 90

2009 - Reality show personality Jade Goody passes away of cervical cancer, aged 27

2014 - A boat capsizes in Lake Albert, killing 251 passengers

And, sadly...I have one more event to add, along with condolences towards the people of Brussels...

2016 - A series of bomb attacks kill at least 31 people in the city of Brussels, Belgium

And celebrating a birthday on March 22 are the following famous faces; Gilles Pelletier, Mort Drucker, Pat Robertson, Stephen Sondheim, William Shatner, May Britt, M. Emmet Walsh, Roger Whittaker, Jeremy Clyde, Bruno Ganz, George Benson, Eric Roth, Wolf Blitzer, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bob Costas, James House, Lena Olin, Stephanie Mills, Matthew Modine, Keegan-Michael Key, Elvis Stojko, Beverley Knight, Anne Dudek, Cole Hauser, Kellie Shanygne Williams, Reese Witherspoon, John Otto, Shannon Bex, Michael Janyk, and Nick Robinson.

Now let's see what year we're going to go back in time to this week.

Ah, March 22, 1989.  That would be exactly 27 years ago today.

And I'm sure that if you are a fan of hockey, you probably remember this day very well, as it was probably one of the most horrifying days that could have ever happened on a hockey rink - and the incident changed one NFL player's life forever.

Now, everybody knows that when it comes to the world of sports, there is not a single sport that doesn't come without its risks.  In baseball, for example, there's always a chance that a player could break a leg sliding into third base, or get clonked on the head by a foul ball or bat.  In football, there's the threat of bodily harm, heat exhaustion, and concussions.  Even in synchronized swimming, there's always a slim chance that while you're performing your routine, you drown.  Mind you, I can't recall a time when that has happened, but there's always that chance.

And in the game of hockey, there are a lot of hazards that have to be considered.  The slick surface of the ice have caused dozens of hockey players to get battered and bruised when they slip.  There's risks of concussions - have you seen some of the players get smashed into the sides of the rink?  That's not pleasant!  And might I remind you that one of the reasons why a hockey mask became mandatory for goalies was because one nearly died taking a puck to the face?  There's even one of those retro Heritage Canada commercials that depicts this moment!

But in 1989, a new hazard was added to that list.  Having a sharpened skate blade pierce your neck and nearly bleeding to death as a result.

That event actually happened 27 years ago today.  And for the player that it happened to - Clint Malarchuk - it certainly was the point that changed his life forever.

Let's go back to that date.  That was the day that Malarchuk's team - the Buffalo Sabres - took on the St. Louis Blues.  And as far as Malarchuk's record went, he was a solid player.  Having played previously for several other teams including the Quebec Nordiques and the Washington Capitals, his overall career record included 141 wins, 130 losses, 45 ties, 12 shutouts, and a save percentage of .885. 

But it was during the first half of that game that something happened that caught everyone off guard, especially Malarchuk.

At some point during the game, Uwe Krupp of the Sabres and Steve Tuttle of the Blues were approaching the Sabres goal that Malarchuk was tending, and as they approached the net, they crashed into each other and slammed into the goal crease.  As a result of a freak accident, Tuttle's skate brushed up against the side of Malarchuk's neck and sliced it open.  To make matters worse, the skate blade severed Malarchuk's carotid artery which caused blood to rapidly pour out of Malarchuk's neck all over the ice surface.

Needless to say, the game was halted right at that moment, and cameras and spectators saw the whole thing happen live - both at the rink, and on live television.

Fortunately, Malarchuk had a lot of angels looking down on him that day.  One of which was the Sabres' athletic trainer at the time, Jim Pizzutelli, who prior to joining the Sabres worked as a - get this - a medic for the United States army who served during the Vietnam War.  It was Pizzutelli's quick thinking that got Malarchuk off the ice, and he managed to keep compression on the wound and pinched off the blood vessel to keep Malarchuk from bleeding to death.  He was still conscious when he was rushed to the hospital, and the game resumed when word broke that he was in stable condition.  Unfortunately for the Sabres, they ended up losing to the Blues with a score of 2-1.

But what a horrifying event to take place at a hockey game.  I was only seven years old when this event took place, so I do not remember seeing it...but I do remember a lot of my classmates talking about it in school.  The gruesome event had a lot of effect at the rink as well.  Eleven spectators passed out from the sight of the blood, and at least two more spectators suffered heart attacks.  Three players were so sickened by the sight of all the blood that they threw up on the ice.  Even the announcers of the game were visibly shaken, which you could notice immediately after the severity of the injury was revealed.

It was certainly one of hockey's darkest moments for sure.

After the injury healed, Malarchuk returned to the game (after it took nearly 300 stitches to close up the wound), but he didn't seem to do as well as he had before March 22, 1989, and by 1996, he had retired from the sport as a player, but continued as a coach.  However, the incident left him physically scarred, as well as emotionally.  His obsessive-compulsive disorder had gotten much worse, he became dependent on alcohol, and he also suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder as a direct result of the accident.

And nearly two decades after his own accident, a second player - Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik - sustained nearly the same exact injury during a game in February 2008 which triggered the attacks of post-traumatic stress - which ultimately lead to a suicide attempt just a few months afterwards.

Fortunately, as of this writing, it seems as though Malarchuk has begun the recovery process.  And while I would like to explain it, I think this interview that he did with CBC news anchor Wendy Mesley in 2014 will do a much better job.

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