As important as a battle for a playoff spot is, it is more important to realize we are all humans and respect the fragility of it all. What happened with Rich Peverley Monday night was a perfect example.
The Dallas Stars were hosting the Columbus Blue Jackets in a very important game for both teams. Both are in the thick of a playoff battle and holding on to the eighth and final playoff spot in their respective conferences. The Blue Jackets defeated the Stars 4-2 less than a week ago, and both had been playing well of late. Perhaps the biggest storyline of the night was Tim Thomas’ first start in goal for the Stars, but an even bigger storyline would take over less than 10 minutes into the game.
Columbus dominated the game from the opening faceoff and took a 1-0 lead 2:44 into the game on a power play goal by Nathan Horton. The Stars looked sluggish on the ice, but something happened that threw everyone on their bench into a frenzy.
The Stars were skating the puck up ice as teams do constantly every game, but there was yelling from the bench. Stars players were seen yelling, waving their arms and banging their sticks against the boards trying to get the attention of the officials. Finally, one of the referees blew the whistle and a gathering ensued around the Dallas bench. Two members of the Stars personnel were scene carrying somebody from the floor of the bench into the hallway leading to the dressing rooms.
There was loud yelling and requests for paramedics could be heard. The doors to the hallway were shut and silenced ensued. Players from both teams were standing near the benches. Peverley was the only player not accounted for on the ice or benches. Stars players looked devastated and anxious. After several minutes both teams and the referees headed off the ice.
Apparently, Peverley had collapsed on the bench due to a “cardiac event,” according to the doctor on site, Dr. Gil Salazar. A defibrillator was successfully used after he was carried into the hallway. He regained consciousness and was aware of his surroundings before being sent to a hospital where he is currently in stable condition. Coach Lindy Ruff said Peverley asked how much time was left in the first period, and the doctor on site said he wanted to get back on to the ice.
Peverley had been diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation, an irregular heartbeat, in the offseason causing him to miss all of training camp. He underwent a procedure before the season to correct the issue. He missed last week’s game against Columbus but had returned and played well the past two games.
After a roughly 15-minute delay, the NHL made the right decision and postponed the game. It’s tough to imagine anyone from either team being able to focus and play a hockey game immediately after such a scare.
Every once in a while, something that happens that reminds us that hockey players are humans too. They are more than just the celebrities people idolize and root for. Whether it is Jiri Fischer’s similar scare or dangerous skate cuts such as Richard Zednik’s, it is important to realize that life and health are fragile and is more important than a game.