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Panthers winger Zednik skates briefly

The Canadian Press

3/20/2008 8:34:45 PM

SUNRISE, Fla. - Richard Zednik joined the Florida Panthers for the official team picture this week, but saved his real smile for a brief return to the ice.

Zednik skated alone for about 5-to-10 minutes Wednesday before his teammates practised, enjoying the ice for the first time since a near fatal injury in February when his throat was slashed by teammate Olli Jokinen's skate.

"I didn't want to leave," Zednik said. "I was like, 'I'm going to stay.' It was great to be on the ice. I felt like it was time to go back."

Zednik says his recovery is going well, though doctors still haven't cleared him to work out. He hopes to run on a treadmill or ride a stationary bike in the next week or so.

"I feel good," Zednik said. "A little bored, but good."

Zednik has attended every Panthers home game since returning to South Florida from Buffalo, where he was hospitalized after the injury. The carotid artery on the right side of his throat was nearly severed.

He only wishes he could join his teammates on the ice for games as they try to make a late push for the playoffs.

"I don't like it," he said of sitting out. "I want to be there playing for the playoffs. It's tough to watch."