COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The scene at American Airlines Center in Dallas on Monday night was something out of a bad dream. Panic, uncertainty, fear...all were predominant emotions which swept over both the Blue Jackets and Stars after Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench in the first period.
And it's something no one wants to go through ever again. Players and coaches on both teams were in agreement that the game could not continue, and would have to be rescheduled for a later date. Nevermind that the Blue Jackets held a 1-0 lead just over six minutes into the game, their only focus was the welfare of Peverley, a player who missed training camp and the preseason to undergo a cardiac procedure.
Ask any player in the Blue Jackets' dressing room and they describe Peverley as a very well-liked guy who seems to fit in wherever he's played. Nathan Horton, who spent time with Peverley as a member of the Boston Bruins, said he and many people on or around ice level were not sure of what happened initially, but they quickly knew that something was not right.
"One moment, everyone's yelling for a line change and 10 or 15 seconds later you just saw a cluster around their bench," Horton said. "I looked and still didn't know (right away), but then I figured out what was going on. I was sick to my stomach, wondering what was going on and hoping he was okay just like everyone else."
Horton said he's reached out to his former teammate but understands that he'll get back in due time. Horton said his wife, Tammy, has spoken with Nathalie Peverley in the hours since the incident.
"Everyone's just happy he's okay," Horton said. "He's such a nice guy, a great teammate....everybody loves him. He's been in Dallas just for this year and his teammates love him. He's that kind of guy and everybody cares about him."
Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards, who coached Peverley when he was in the Nashville Predators organization, heard noise coming from the Stars' bench and saw Lindy Ruff turned toward the crowd, asking for a doctor. At that time, players on both benches began to clamor for the officials' attention to stop the game.
"The referees did a great job," Richards said. "I was amazed at the response of everyone involved. I think there's a lesson out there for everyone in every building that we need to be prepared for anything."
"(We got) great news as we were leaving that he was talking, and that was a positive. The good news is that he's stable and doing well. For us, we have to move on and it's a little easier said than done. We can't use it as an excuse; part of our job in pro sports is getting ready for the next game and putting tough situations behind us...but this is different; this is life and it's not hockey. We play for wins and losses, and there's a lot more that happened last night that could have happened, and we might be talking about a different story.
"When health is the concern, that is the concern and hockey is secondary...I was very impressed with the way that the people in Dallas responded."