Monday night's game between the Nashville Predators and the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena was suspended 12:30 into the first period, after Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer suffered what team spokesman John Hahn described on Detroit television as a seizure and collapsed while on the players' bench. Fischer, a 25-year-old native of the Czech Republic, was resuscitated on the scene and is reported to be in stable condition at Detroit Receiving Hospital, breathing on his own and responsive.
"We have a number of players who know Jiri Fischer," Nashville head coach Barry Trotz said. "In particular, guys like Tomas Vokoun, [Marek] Zidlicky, [Martin] Erat, all the Czech players. I know even Kimmo Timonen and a couple of other guys know him. Obviously there is great concern for him. It was scary, the situation. Obviously very traumatic for us but also I couldn't imagine Detroit's locker room."
National Hockey League representatives consulted management, coaches and players from each club while reaching the decision to suspend the game. Information on a rescheduled date will be provided as it becomes available.
"I thought the NHL did a great job of taking everything into consideration--the players, the coaches, the management, the fans, everybody--and the decision was made to reschedule the game," Trotz said. "You had two very good teams that wouldn't have had a lot of interest in playing that game if it would have continued on. There's no question in my mind the right decision was made by the NHL and both teams and everybody involved in that decision."
The Nashville Predators had taken a 1-0 lead on a goal by Greg Johnson just over a minute before Fischer's collapse. During a stoppage in play, the arena's collective attention turned toward commotion at the Red Wings bench. Individuals from the teams' medical and training staffs and the officiating crew rushed to Fischer's aid, performing CPR on the 6-5, 225 pound defenseman. A defibrillator was used before he was ultimately placed on a stretcher and wheeled to an ambulance that took him to the hospital.
"The latest we've heard was that he was at the hospital and they've got him stablized and he's talking," Trotz said. "And that's a great thing because there were moments when they had to defib him to get his heart going again. It looked scary from where we were and we were just over on the other bench. I'll tell you what, they had some people working very, very frantically on him."
In an eerie coincidence, a ceremony prior to Nashville's Saturday night game in Minnesota honored the late Sergei Zholtok, a forward who had played for both the Wild and the Predators before collapsing during a November 2004 game in Latvia and dying of heart failure. "Going through the tribute to Sergei Zholtok two nights earlier, [tonight's incident] hit home with us and I know it hit home for Detroit as well," Trotz said.
The Predators will travel to Columbus Monday night as planned, according to Trotz, and will begin preparing for their Wednesday night game against the Blue Jackets. In the meantime, their thoughts remain with Fischer.
"Quite frankly both teams just felt that the absolute right thing to do was reschedule it and give our thoughts and prayers to Jiri," Trotz said. "I think everybody will benefit from it. Hopefully Jiri gets better and recovers. You should have two very interested teams playing each other later on at a rescheduled date."