At the 13:37 mark of the first period in yesterday's Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Dallas Stars hockey game, play was halted by the officials due to Rich Peverley, a Centre for the Dallas Stars, collapsing on the bench.
The scene as it unfolded live was one of panic and deep concern. When the players on the Dallas Stars bench first noticed that Peverley had collapsed, their initial reaction was to beat their sticks on the boards to draw the attention of the officials. However, when that attempt did not work (most likely due to the overall noise of the arena), the players took to a more desperate attempt to halt the game - rushing onto the ice in waves to force the stoppage.
"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," stated Stars coach Lindy Ruff. "I was scared."
Jody Shelley on the TV broadcast says Dallas Stars player Rich Peverley "keeled over" on the Stars bench. Describes scene as "somber panic."
— Lori Schmidt (@LoriSchmidt) March 11, 2014
The Dallas Stars organization had great reason to be concerned. Peverley, 31 years of age, had a medical procedure before the NHL season began to correct a pre-existing heart condition. The procedure forced Peverley to miss the preseason training camp and the Stars' first game of the season.
"We monitor him closely for a different type of arrhythmia he has. He does have a pre-existing condition, and the condition — a normal quivering of the heart that does not allow him to send blood to places where he needs to, in his brain and heart," reported a member of the emergency medicine team at UT Southwestern, Dr. Gil Salazar.
Peverley was moved by a player to the tunnel for immediate treatment. Luckily, Peverley responded almost immediately, which Dr. Salazar states is a positive sign: "We provided oxygen for him. We started an IV. We did chest compressions on him and defibrillated him, provided some electricity to bring a rhythm back to his heart, and that was successful with one attempt, which is very reassuring. As soon as we treated him, he regained consciousness. He was able to tell me where he was."
Not only was Peverley able to tell Dr. Salazar where he was, but was also cognizant enough to want to get back out on the ice:
"First thing Rich asked me when I spoke to him- 'how much time left in the period'. You know, typical athlete"-Coach Ruff
— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 11, 2014
Despite Peverley's want and will to continue playing, his teammates were not of the same persuasion.
There's nobody in there that wants to play hockey right now, and I think everybody understands that when you've witnessed what they had to witness, and that's their teammate. And that's the right place to be. That's the right emotion to have. They're not doing very good, and I wouldn't expect them to be," stated Ruff.
Due to the reluctance of players and coaches to resume the game, the NHL has decided to suspend play and postpone the game to a later date.
In the meantime, NHL players, coaches, and fans must wonder why the NHL has allowed Peverley to continue playing with such a dangerous pre-existing condition. With the NFL upping its attention to player safety, one would think that the NHL, perhaps an even more physical sport than the NFL, would follow suit in light of all of the scientific information gathered by the recent focus on sports injuries. One can only hope that Peverley's condition will be more fully assessed before he is allowed back on the ice and brings the potential of a similar event occurring.
Image via YouTube