DALLAS -- Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley said Friday he would like to return to the NHL if the time is right, but he'll need time to decide on his future as he recovers from a successful heart procedure.
"I feel great. I've gone back into my sinus rhythm (normal heartbeat) and I think under instructions of the doctors, I've been able to start working out and monitoring my heart rate," Peverley said in his first press conference since having the procedure last week at the Cleveland Clinic. "Going on the ice leisurely I think is something that shouldn't be a problem."
Peverley was able to take the ice Thursday for the first time since his procedure, which was to correct atrial fibrillation, the technical name for an irregular heartbeat.
"I went on the ice yesterday, and ultimately my goal would be to come back if it's the right time," he said.
Peverley collapsed on the Stars bench during the first period of the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 10 with what was termed a cardiac event. After being carried to a hallway behind the bench, he was attended to by a team of medical personnel, revived, and transported to a hospital.
The game was suspended then postponed. It will be made up April 9 in Dallas.
Peverley, who had seven goals and 30 points in 62 games this season, is expected to recover from the procedure in around three months. He had a procedure prior to the start of the season, which sidelined him for all of the preseason and the early part of the regular season.
Peverley initially planned to have the second procedure after the season, but the incident during the Columbus game advanced the timetable.
Dr. Robert J. Dimeff, the Stars' director of medical services, said Peverley's heart rate is being watched but he's being allowed to slowly increase his activity.
"He's still being monitored on a regular basis. We have a couple monitors he's using to follow his heart rate to make sure he's in sinus rhythm," Dimeff said. "He's on medication to keep the heart rate slow. He's on medication for blood thinning, which is required after the procedure. And at this point in time, we're really just ramping up his exercise activity slowly and monitoring him closely."
Dimeff said Peverley should be able to stop taking blood thinners in about a month and should be ready to return to full physical activity in about three months.
Peverley said he talked to former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer, who experienced a similar episode in December 2005 and ended up retiring.
"I spoke with Jiri on the phone. I also spoke with another person through [former Dallas teammate] Stephane Robidas who went through a similar incident and he was a hockey player played in Europe. Speaking with them actually makes me feel a lot better," Peverley said. "They say don't rush to any decisions. So after I keep hearing that, I'm not. I'm not going to rush on anything. I love to play hockey. I'm passionate about the sport and I want to be around it, so I want to come and I want to see the guys every day at the rink and maybe go on the ice. That's just what I love to do."
Peverley said he and his family have pondered the question of his future, adding that the incident and its aftermath have given him a greater appreciation for life.
"I think it's a question that I think initially I really wanted to know the answer to and it's going to be a process of coming back," he said. "The recovery process is going to take time, and as cliché as this sounds, I've really learned this the past week, that it is day-by-day.
"I think you appreciate life. I have a beautiful family and two kids and a wife. Initially, you do think about if you weren't here for them, and that's kind of tough. I'm lucky to be here, and not a day goes by that I'm not thankful for that."
He said having the interest in him for the past couple of weeks has made him a bit uncomfortable, especially with the Stars trying to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I don't want the spotlight. I've never been that type," Peverley said. "It's not something I'm searching for. I feel horrible for the team. I don't want this to be a sideshow. I know they're going for the playoffs. They're only a few points out. The focus should be on them and them trying to make the playoffs for the city.
"I'm hoping that this can be put to rest and everyone can move on after this. I'm doing well now. I'm under great care and I wish the team the best, and that's why I'm hoping to be there to support them the way they supported me."