BY JAMES COOK
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — In 2013, Zach Redmond experienced highs and lows of huge proportions.
He made his National Hockey League debut on Jan. 31 for the Winnipeg Jets, becoming the first Traverse City native to play in the NHL.
He scored his first two NHL assists on Feb. 5 and his first goal Feb. 7.
Then three weeks after his debut, tragedy struck. His right thigh was cut down to the bone by a teammates’ skate during a pre-game practice session. He was rushed to the hospital and struggled trying to stay awake due to blood loss.
Redmond’s unique NHL journey is No. 8 in the Record-Eagle’s 2013 top 10 sports stories.
Teammate Antti Miettinen’s skate tore through Redmond’s skin in a play near the goal mouth, cutting the femoral artery.
“It wasn’t spraying like it does sometimes,” Redmond said. “Something with the way my muscle was overlapped on the artery, it was just pouring out instead of spraying. So it wasn’t like I was going into a panic with the spraying. But there was a lot of blood coming out.
“I can’t believe how fast everybody reacted. It saved my life for sure.”
A little over a month later, he was well on his way to recovery.
“They put me at a year to come back,” he said March 27 as the Record-Eagle was the first media outlet to get his story of the incident, “but it’s looking like I’ll be back for training camp next season.”
He beat that estimate — by a mile.
Redmond, 25, came back to play in two minor-league games for the American Hockey League’s St. John’s Ice Caps at the end of the season. Had the Jets qualified for the playoffs, he would have been eligible to play and complete the miraculous comeback.
He did return to the NHL this season, and has played in three contests so far for the Jets. He’s seen action in 11 games with the Ice Caps as well, ranking ninth in scoring on a team despite playing on defense and playing in fewer than half of the team’s games.
Over the summer, he was also a grand marshal in the Cherry Festival parade.