Ex-Caps goaltender Clint Malarchuk had a solid NHL career that spanned a decade and 338 regular season games. Malarchuk won 141 of those games, was named to the 1987 NHL-U.S.S.R Rendez-vous Series and led the NHL in shutouts in 1987-88 in his only full season as a member of the Capitals.
Malarchuk was involved in significant swaps both in joining the Capitals in the summer of 1987 and in leaving Washington in the winter of 1989. Malarchuk came to the Caps from Quebec along with Dale Hunter on June 13, 1987 and he was traded for defenseman and current Caps’ assistant coach Calle Johansson when Washington dealt him to Buffalo on March 7, 1989. But Malarchuk will always be remembered for suffering one of the most gruesome on-ice injuries in the NHL’s history.
Just 15 days after the Caps traded Malarchuk to the Sabres, the goaltender’s neck was inadvertently sliced in a game against the St. Louis Blues at the old Auditorium in Buffalo. Blues forward Steve Tuttle was upended in a tangle with Buffalo blueliner Uwe Krupp at the top of the Sabres’ crease, and Tuttle’s skate blade caught an area between Malarchuk’s mask and his collar.
Malarchuk went down immediately, and blood began gushing from a gaping wound in his neck. Sabres trainers acted quickly in getting him off the ice and to the hospital were doctors performed surgery and stitched him back together.
Incredibly, Malarchuk was back on the ice for the Sabres less than two weeks later.
ESPN.com recently produced a compelling 30/30 short video documentary of Malarchuk’s struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder and the aftermath of his noteworthy neck injury. After suffering a self-inflicted gunshot wound in 2008, Malarchuk sought and received the psychiatric help needed to deal with his OCD as well as post-traumatic stress disorder relating to the neck injury.
In an ironic side note to the short documentary, a ticket stub for the March 22, 1989 game in which Malarchuk was injured is shown during the video. Johansson is the Sabre who is pictured on the ticket, 15 days after his departure from Buffalo.
Malarchuk concluded his NHL playing career in Buffalo in 1992. He went on to play several seasons for the Las Vegas Thunder of the old IHL, becoming the first Thunder player ever to have his uniform number retired. He has served as an NHL goaltending coach for Florida, Columbus and is now holding that position for the Calgary Flames.