by Maria Gerbic
Dallas Stars’ forward Rich Peverley collapsed Monday night during their hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets were winning 1-0 when Peverley, who has a history of heart problems, hit the ground, prompting the players on the Stars’ bench to panic. Trainers ran to Peverley’s side as his teammates knelt on the ground, helpless and distraught.
31-year-old Rich Peverley had a procedure done 6 months ago to correct an arrhythmia that stops the flow of blood from the heart to the brain. He sat out of a game last week because he felt strange, but was back to his regular self a few days before his collapse. When Peverley fell to the ground early in the first quarter Monday night, his teammates tried to get the officials’ attention by pounding their hockey sticks against the glass. The referees, unaware of what was going on, continued on with the game, ignoring the noise. When the players failed to get the referees’ attention, Dallas player Antoine Roussel sprinted across the ice to alert the referees. Peverley was tended to immediately, but was so critical that the trainers didn’t even use a stretcher. The Stars stood distressed and shocked after Peverley was transported through the tunnel, so much so that they decided they wanted to reschedule the game against the Blue Jackets.
The Stars’ coach Lindy Ruff described the chaotic scene, saying, “When he dropped, it was red alert. Don’t worry about the game. It was about getting the doctors. The players don’t want to play, and I don’t want to coach the team right now.’’ Erik Cole, forward for the Stars, ran after Peverley as he was rushed through the tunnel, and returned chewing on the thumb of his glove. Trevor Daley wiped his face with a shaking hand as he knelt on one knee. The whole team came together, fearing for the life of their fellow teammate.
Peverley stabilized at the hospital where chest compressions and defibrillation were performed to restart his heart. The doctors are hopeful that Peverley will make a full recovery, and are monitoring his irregular heart rhythm more closely. Amidst the commotion, Peverley was not aware of his collapse. When he woke up for the first time in the hospital, he asked more questions about the game than about where he was and what had happened. While waking up in a daze, he asked the doctors, “How much time is left in the first quarter?” His doctors and teammates are positive he will have speedy recovery, and are hopeful that he will return for the rematch against the Blue Jackets.