Dallas Stars: Rich Peverley and the Horror Inside the American Airlines Center
On Saturday night the Dallas Stars celebrated one of the greatest nights in their franchise’s history as they retired the number of Mike Modano. 48 hours later the Stars would suffer one of the worst moments in franchise history.
Myself along with the thousands of other Stars fans in the arena had just settled into our seats. The Stars were already down 1-0 on a power play goal by the Columbus Blue Jackets, and Dallas was moving the puck into their own zone when the team’s bench started going crazy.
Players were banging their sticks on the walls as well as the ice. Towels were being thrown on the ice. Several players jumped over the bench and were waving their hands frantically. At the 13:37 mark in the first period play was stopped by the officials. As they all skated towards the Stars’ bench it was evident to everyone in the arena that something was wrong.
For the next few moments speculations arose to what had happened. People were talking about the possibility that someone had fallen over the railing and into the tunnel in which the players enter from the dressing room. People around me were asking what was going on as I had my phone out following Twitter.
Of course social media was full of rumors just like those circling around the arena. After about 10 minutes an announcement was made in the arena letting us know there was concern about a Stars player. This brought up more speculation about who the player was.
After a few more minutes, social media started using the name Rich Peverley. Of course that was speculation as well, but more and more people were running with this theory. We as Stars fans were all aware of his heart condition that had caused him to miss some games already.
By now, people were assuming the worst for Peverley. The players were all on their knees in front of the bench. Another announcement was made in the building, but it was the same as before. By now, we’d been standing for about 20 minutes. Stars and Blue Jacket fans were all waiting to hear something about the situation.
Finally, the players started to leave the ice. First it was the Blue Jacket players, followed by the Stars. The Stars left the arena through the visiting tunnel and that caused more questions to arise. Why weren’t they leaving through their normal tunnel and heading towards their dressing room?
Finally the announcement was made in the AAC that Rich Peverley had collapsed and was taken to a local hospital. They told us that he was conscious and the NHL was deciding on whether or not the game would continue. I think most of us realized at this point the game would probably not continue. How could the team battle back from that? We would learn later that he was unconscious and had to have a procedure done in the locker room area.
While we waited for the official word from the NHL, the AAC was quiet. None of us could believe the events that had just unfolded in front of us. You could hear a pin drop in that place as we waited. There was nobody on the ice. The scoreboard just showed a picture of the Stars logo. It was a somber feeling.
Finally after about a 35-minute delay, the announcer told the arena that the game had been postponed by the league offices. As we exited the building we were reminded by several workers to keep our tickets. As we left, I couldn’t help but think about what I had watched. Two nights ago I sat there as that arena cheered the greatest American-born player to ever put on a hockey uniform. Tonight I watched as the same fans hoped and prayed that Peverley was okay.
In that moment I couldn’t help but remember that sports are fun and I love to follow them. However, I was also reminded that there are more important things in this world than a sporting event. Now excuse me while I make sure my loved ones know just how much I care for them.