By Will Martin
Suffice to say most things in life have an order, a value, a protocol, and a place of importance in terms of a given protocol. When you go to an event the hope is that you are going to see a degree of entertainment and honest effort, one winner, one loser, and a moment or two that will stay with you in the journey of your existence.
Hearing the cheers or boos and seeing the audience respond when good or bad happens on the ice, the diamond, the hardwood, or even the slope, luge or squared circle.
One sound you never want to hear is the sound of a scream or sheer terror. Much like a parent, or a loved one in peril, reaction time is something that may test one’s will.
One week ago the Dallas Stars played a game in Columbus against the Blue Jackets. A game Dallas lost 4-2 and one in which Rich Peverley was kept out due to a health issue with regards to his heart. An irregular heart beat or something to that effect.
Monday March 11th at the American Airlines Center the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets met again for the second of two meetings. Columbus got on the board about 2 and a half minutes in on the power play.
At about the six minute mark the crowd on hand and the press box are all watching the action when all of a sudden I hear sounds coming from the Stars bench that do not resemble the usual repartee of an angry coach criticizing a dirty play or aggressive hit.
Screams were heard as players and Lindy Ruff’s staff began banging sticks and calling for medics, calling for help. A few seconds later all of the Blue Jackets and Stars were gathered by the Stars bench. I had friends at the game who sit right by the Dallas bench. I was told after about seven minutes that a player had collapsed and was being attended to.
That player was Rich Peverley.
One of the more grittier and popular players for the Dallas Stars. A friend then told me how shaken everyone on the ice appeared.
It wasn’t until I saw the replays of what had happened (as reported on TV) that you could sense the chaos going on. One of our cameramen-Michael Kolch-would later tell me that it was a scary kind of surreal feeling. Rich Peverley had just finished a shift and then collapsed.
It was about seven or eight minutes after the initial stoppage of play that Public Address announcer Jeff K informed the fans that, “The Dallas Stars were dealing with the health and well-being of a certain player and thanks for your understanding.”
Another 10 minutes or so, both teams skated off the ice. With little precedence to go by I was reminded of an incident that happened back in 2005 in a game at Joe Louis Arena with the Red Wings and the Nashville Predators. Red Wings player Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench and you saw people working furiously to revive him. Fischer was dead for about 30-45 seconds before being brought back with a defibrillator.
That moment was numbing to be sure. Fischer made a full recovery. In fact, I will be shocked if the name of Jiri Fischer doesn’t get linked with Rich Peverley as he begins a process of recovery.
What began as terrified silence became a maze of murmurs abuzz. What happened? Who was it? How did it happen?
We are so used to being ‘on top of things right here right now’ with the amount of social media available. For a few moments no one knew. I had an inkling based on what a friend told me when #17 was not on the ice. The body language told me that this was not a good sign.
It was then that Jeff K informed us that Rich Peverley was taken to the hospital, he was conscious and to keep him in our prayers. It was then that the Twitterfeed I tweet on during live games EXPLODED with the announcement the game was postponed until a later date.
About ten minutes after that the press box was led on down to the interview room where we heard from Dr. Gil Salazar, Dr. William Robertson, Jim Lites, and Lindy Ruff. All questions were answered in an 11 minute impromptu press conference. Here is the context of that full press conference that occurred on March 10th.
The look on Lindy Ruff’s face said it all. No one wanted to play hockey. The Blue Jackets and Stars were thinking about their fallen comrade.
Jim Nill on March 11th would release a statement on the current status of Rich Peverley. Hours before a trip to St. Louis to play the Blues. A trip that Alex Chiasson would not make. He was too shaken up to what he had witnessed Monday night. This led to call ups for Chris Mueller and Colton Sceviour from the Texas Stars.
There was mention of a medication change made for Rich Peverley in the last week or so. Rather than go the conjecture route on that one I’ll let the doctors provide that explanation when the time is right. For now, thoughts and prayers go to the immediate family of Rich Peverley for a quick and speedy recovery.
The fans of Dallas showed incredible restraint and class at the announcement of postponement news. They, like those of us in the press box, knew that the time for a game was not at that moment. A person’s life was almost affected/taken if not for the actions of some good doctors and EMT types who took care of what is now being termed, ‘a cardiac event’.
Lindy Ruff never wants to have to go through that again. Neither do the players. Neither do the fans. Neither do the media.
We here at Blitz Weekly wish Rich Peverley a complete Godspeed and speedy recovery from whatever the issue is that makes for his heartbeat and bloodflow do what it does.