It was a scary scene in the American Airlines Center on Monday night after a player for the Dallas Stars collapsed on the bench. Rich Peverley, a second line forward for the Stars, played just a few shifts in the game versus the Columbus Blue Jackets before collapsing on the bench. Team medical staff immediately tended to Peverley, where it was determined he would need a trip to the hospital. Peverley was conscious by the time he reached the nearby hospital, but the National Hockey League determined it was in the best interest for all parties involved to delay the game between the two teams until a later date.
Peverley had missed the entire preseason and the first game of the regular season due to an irregular heartbeat, expected to be the same reason for his collapse tonight. Dallas Star coach, Lindy Ruff, said that it is an issue he has been monitoring all season. Peverley also missed a game last Tuesday, claiming he was “feeling strange” the day before. The organization felt it was not worth the risk to have him fly and kept him off that trip.
The forward has had very few incidents throughout his long NHL career. In addition to playing for Dallas, he has played for the Nashville Predators, the Atlanta Thrashers and the Boston Bruins for over 10 NHL seasons. Though he has never been the highest point producer, his high energy and strong defensive play has made him a fan favorite wherever he played. He earned the nickname “Raptor Jesus” while playing in Atlanta, a nickname that seemed to be pulled out of thin air and inexplicably has stuck with Peverley throughout his career.
For many NHL fans, Peverley’s collapse brought back memories of another scary incident during a NHL game. Former Detroit Red Wing, Jiri Fischer, went into cardiac arrest during a game against the Nashville Predators on November 21, 2005. The NHL also postponed that game after the event, playing the game in January. It was the first time in NHL history that a game had been postponed due to injury. Fischer was released from the hospital just days later, but was ordered by doctors to avoid physical activity for four to six weeks. He continued to suffer similar incidents throughout the year, and it was his heart condition that was ultimately a deciding factor in his early retirement from the NHL.
There is hope that the outlook will be better for Rich Peverley. Ruff said when Peverley dropped, it was a red alert. He said the game no longer matter, only getting the doctors did. Doctors, the coach continued, that did an excellent job at treating Peverley as swiftly as possible. Ruff also said that Peverley was in high hopes when he spoke to him after the game.
“First thing Rich asked me when I spoke to him – ‘How much time left in the period’ – you know, typical athlete,” said Ruff.
Columbus held a 1-0 lead when Peverley collapsed, a lead that they will likely begin with when the NHL determines an appropriate time to resume the game.
This article is one in a daily series, providing coverage, analysis and predictions to NHL fans.
Commentary by Jonathan Gardner
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