Watching the events unfold in Dallas Monday night was gut wrenching. I’m sure this sentiment holds true for those in attendance at the American Airlines Center as well as the hockey fans and sports fanatics watching at home, and those who found out via social media.
For those who missed it, Rich Peverley collapsed on the Stars bench with 13:37 left in the first period in their contest with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Immediately, Stars fans in attendance were in stunned silence as the former Bruin laid motionless for several minutes. The players on the Stars bench, and eventually the Blue Jackets bench, were banging their sticks trying to get the referees’ attention.
Fortunately, the refs saw the situation and immediately stopped the game, which eventually was postponed after a 15-minute delay. Moments later, the emotional men from both teams cleared to make room as trainers, doctors, and EMTs tried to revive Peverley.
Peverley was put on a stretcher and regained consciousness. He even asked how much time was left in the contest.
“First thing Rich asked me when I spoke to him- ‘how much time left in the period’. You know, typical athlete”-Coach Ruff
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 11, 2014
Maybe it was a sign of courage. Maybe it was a sign of being a little unaware of his surroundings. Or maybe it was a sign of being a true hockey player.
Whatever the sign was, Peverley survived a scary situation and is in stable condition staying overnight at a Dallas area hospital.
“Dallas player Rich Peverley is doing well and is in stable condition. He has been transported to a hospital,” the NHL said in a press release. “As a result of the emotional state of both teams caused by the medical emergency, the game is being postponed. We apologize for any inconvenience and we thank the fans.”
This isn’t the first health scare for Peverley. At the start of training camp, Peverley, who was acquired from the Bruins by the Stars in the blockbuster deal that also included Tyler Seguin, Loui Eriksson and Reilly Smith on July 4, had a procedure done to treat an irregular heartbeat. The speedy forward was able to recover in time for the start of the 2013-14 season, however.
But Peverley suffered another setback last Tuesday as he missed the game against the Blue Jackets in Columbus due to an upper-body injury. Two days later, Stars coach Lindy Ruff told reporters that Peverley missed that contest in Columbus due to the same heart condition. Pevs did return on March 1 against the Lightning and also skated in the following two games.
And now, six days later, Peverley suffered another setback. While his recovery seems to be encouraging, there’s no denying that his heart condition could force the 31-year old into an early retirement.
I’m not here to suggest that Peverley should retire from hockey based on the tumultuous six-plus months he’s endured. One can look back at the comeback attempts of Mario Lemieux and Saku Koivu after being diagnosed with cancer as a positive sign of perseverance.
This begs the question, would Peverley want to risk his life playing the game he loves? Or would he contemplate hanging up the skates and thinking about life outside of hockey.
Through 442 games, Peverley has 241 career points (84 goals, 157 assists) and one 20-goal season with the old Atlanta Thrashers back in 2009-10. On the other hand, he has his name engraved on Lord’s Stanley Cup, something that holds true for only a small percentage of hockey players. That alone would make any hockey player’s career a fulfilling one.
Whatever decision Peverley eventually makes, he’s already made his mark in the NHL. Many in The Hub of Hockey will remember him as one of the classiest acts during his two and a half years donning the spoked B.
Its exactly why all 30 teams on Twitter tweeted their thoughts and prayers to Peverley. And that support is what really matters in the hockey world at this moment.