NAME: Trent McCleary
TEAM: Montreal Canadiens (Hockey)
INJURY: Fractured Larynx and Collapsed Lung
OTHER ATHLETES AFFECTED
Hockey: Eric Lindros, Philadelphia Flyers; Al MacInnis, St. Louis Blues; Basketball: Keon Clark, Denver Nuggets (all with collapsed lung)
HOW IT HAPPENED
McCleary was injured during a game on Jan. 29 against the Flyers. He attempted to block a slap shot by diving feet first in front of it, but in a freak accident, the puck hit him squarely in the throat. McCleary very quickly got to his feet and skated toward the trainer. Because the puck had collapsed his windpipe he could not breathe. He was carried off the ice, and lost consciousness while in the tunnel. He easily could have died that night, but he was rushed to a hospital, and had an emergency tracheostomy within 10 minutes of leaving the arena. He remained in critical condition before being upgraded to stable condition on Feb. 1.
McCleary is a 27-year-old journeyman center. He has played for three teams in four years, and has only played in 12 games this season. He was not drafted but signed as a free agent with the Ottawa Senators in 1992. He broke in at the NHL level during the 1996-1997 season, during which he scored 4 goals and collected 10 assists in 74 games. He was then traded, along with a draft pick, to Boston for left wing Shawn McEachern. He was born in Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada.
WHAT'S INVOLVED IN A FRACTURED LARYNX AND COLLAPSED LUNG?
The larynx was fractured due to direct trauma from a frozen puck. The larynx, otherwise known as the voicebox, is located in the front of the throat behind the "Adam's apple." He also suffered from a collapsed lung, which may have been a result of significant internal bleeding from the fracture, the huge amount of swelling, or his struggle for air during which he sucked so hard that he could have caused the injury. When a lung collapses, a portion of it fills with fluid and, as a result, cannot fill with air. The injury was quite serious because the fracture led to a large amount of swelling and bleeding, and the air duct was obstructed.