Stars forward Rich Peverley was in stable condition at a Dallas hospital after collapsing on the bench during Monday night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at American Airlines Center. Doctors said Peverley had a heart related incident.
“We successfully treated him for a cardiac event with standard therapy,” said Dr. Gil Salazar of UT Southwestern Emergency Medicine. “We provide 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 alert and talking to us after the event and quickly got transported to the hospital. I was actually able to talk to him in the back of the ambulance; he was able to tell me where he was and wanted to get back into the game.”
Peverley has a history of with heart issues. A physical prior to training camp revealed that the 31-year-old Peverley had an irregular heartbeat, a condition that Dr. Salazar said is a “quivering of the heart that does not allow him to send blood to places where he needs to, in his brain and heart.”
Peverley underwent a procedure in Cleveland in September and missed all of camp, the preseason and the first regular season game. He missed last Tuesday’s game in Columbus due to the issue. Stars team doctors say Peverley’s condition had been closely monitored all season.
“Extremely closely, including consultations with other hospitals throughout the nation,” said Dr. Bill Robertson, the Stars Team Physician.
Doctors said it’s too early to say what the long-term outlook for Peverley is right now. He’ll be evaluated in the days ahead.
“Once there’s a cardiac event like this, it becomes a matter of trying to find a cause and addressing it,” said Dr. Salazar. “What this does to the future, it’s hard to say. There are many causes for this and the doctors at UT Southwestern will do extensive testing to rule out major causes of it and address them accordingly.”
Peverley collapsed about six minutes into the game, just after finishing a shift on the ice. The Stars’ bench erupted as players started banging their sticks and everyone on the bench started yelling to get the attention of the on-ice officials to stop the game.
“I was scared. My first emotion was we need somebody here real quick,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “When he dropped, it was red alert, don’t worry about the game, don’t worry about anything else, just turn around and scream for a doctor and that’s all. It was just let’s get him the help he needs and they came and got him the help. For me, it was something I don’t want to witness again. And I know we play a game there’s a lot of emotion and a lot of passion in, but the first thing I thought of was Rich, his family and his kids and what a good person he is and just prayed for everything to be OK.”
Peverley was quickly carried off the bench and down the tunnel where he was treated before being transported to UT Southwestern St. Paul University Hospital. His wife, Nathalie, rode with him in the ambulance.
“Personally, I thought the medical staff did an unbelievable job tonight,” said Ruff. “And I was there firsthand and if it wasn’t for our doctors and all the members reacting so quickly and so efficiently, I could be standing here with a different story. But they did an absolutely fabulous job.”
The incident hit players hard. Many of them were visibly shaken as they stood around on the ice for several minutes before leaving the ice.
“I think that they’re doing like everybody in this building,” said Ruff. “They’re the guys that live with him, they’ve got that camaraderie in the dressing room. 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.”
The NHL postponed the game due to the “emotional state of the players on both teams caused by the medical emergency.” A decision about the remainder of the game will be made at a later date. Ruff said postponing the game was an easy decision to make.
“I had a discussion with the players first I addressed (them), just saying a prayer for Rich and thanking God that he was OK and told them that the first thing he asked me was how much time left in the first period?” Ruff said. “That’s a typical athlete, but there’s not one guy in that room that wants to play hockey right now and I’m not there to persuade them to play. I don’t want to coach a team right now.”