If there’s one thing hockey fans love, it’s the toughness shown by players throughout the league. We love the sight of a player who walks off what many would consider a crippling injury, jumping back out to the ice for his next shift as if nothing happened. “He’s a hockey player,” we always say, almost assuming that, regardless of how nasty a hit looks, the fallen man will get right back up.
But suffering hard hits or pucks to the face is one thing. What happened last night with Rich Peverley of the Dallas Stars is something entirely more serious.
During the first period of Dallas’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Peverley suddenly collapsed on the Stars’ bench. The urgency of the moment spread immediately, as Dallas players rushed to get the game stopped and call attention to their fallen teammate. The sight of Peverley being carried down the hall to the locker room cast a pall on the entire arena, which was left silent for nearly ten minutes. Thankfully, Peverley was resuscitated, eventually taken to the hospital where he received further treatment. Neither team could shake the events from their minds, resulting in the game eventually being postponed to a later date.
It’s important to note, though, that not every player was open to the game being stopped. Stars coach Lindy Ruff claimed that, upon regaining consciousness, Peverley immediately asked how much time was left in the period and indicated he was ready to take the ice.
While you have to respect Peverley’s grit, this is going too far. The ailing Star needs to be less concerned about getting back on to the ice and more concerned with the idea of whether or not he should continuing playing at all.
If this incident came out of nowhere, things might be a little different. Sure, Peverley would need to be closely monitored, slowly but surely eased back into action. But there’s a difference between a freak occurrence and an actual medical condition. That’s exactly what Peverley is suffering. Over the offseason, he was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat. He missed the entire preseason, as well as the team’s season-opener due to issues with the diagnosis. A flare up in his condition last week caused him to miss last Tuesday’s game against Columbus.
This is not a one-time thing, and it’s getting more serious as the season goes along. Peverley may very well return to action this season, and his request to get back into last night’s game after waking up from his collapse indicates that’s exactly what he has planned. But he needs to consider his future here. Who’s to say we don’t see another episode like last night’s? Does anyone want to see another stoppage in play as Peverley’s unconscious body is carried away to be defibrillated again?
If I had to guess, I’d say it’s very unlikely we’ve seen the last of Peverley in NHL action. Again, he’s a hockey player, and it’s all about toughness. However, find me one player, in this league or any other, who will look at replays of last night’s event and say “walk it off, pansy.” What occurred in Dallas last night had players so emotionally numb they couldn’t even comprehend the idea of resuming play. Nobody, at least no sane person, is questioning Peverley’s devotion to the game.
However long it takes for Peverley to feel ready to compete again, he needs to spend that time wondering if it’s really worth it in the end. He no doubt loves playing the game of hockey, but health concerns are quickly becoming an issue. In the end, he has to seriously consider whether or not the game of hockey is worth risking his life for, if things are indeed that serious.
If there’s even a shadow of a doubt, it may be time for Peverley to consider walking away from the sport. The next time something like this occurs, it may not end with him asking to go back into the game.