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Rich Peverley Optimistic About Recovery, but Taking It One Day at a Time

by Mark Stepneski / Dallas Stars

Stars forward Rich Peverley still doesn’t know if he’ll be able to play hockey again after collapsing from an irregular heartbeat during a game in March. And he doesn’t know when he’ll have a definitive answer to that question. There still are a lot of unknowns, but he remains hopeful.

“Still not sure,” Peverley said. “I’m optimistic. We’ll have to wait and see. I am literally taking it day by day.”

Peverley collapsed on the bench during the Stars-Blue Jackets game on March 10 and was revived by medical personnel at American Airlines Center. He had surgery in Cleveland a few days later to address the issue. Since then the 31-year-old has resumed light workouts.

“It’s part of the healing process inside my body just to keep my heart rate low,” Peverley said.

The next step will be to do some activities to raise his heart rate.

“The first main thing is I am going to have to do testing with getting my heart rate up and then we’ll go from there,” he said. “I am not sure when that will be, but that will have to be the first thing.”

The Stars said they’ll let doctors handle the medical side of things, and then sit down with Peverley and discuss the future.

“We’ll wait for the doctors,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “The doctors will monitor him, they have a game plan. They have medical things they need to take care of. Once we figure that out, we’ll sit down with Rich and kind of decide the game plan moving forward.

“We’re in no hurry. Rich has got to do what is right for him and his family and his career. We’re not going to rush that. It’s in Rich’s hand and the doctor’s’ hands.”

Peverley has kept a low profile since the incident, limiting his media availability to just two press conferences. He didn’t want to be a distraction as the team battled for a playoff spot and then took on Anaheim in the first round of the playoffs. He spoke with the media Tuesday as the Stars held exit interviews and cleaned out their lockers.

There was pride in what the team accomplished this season, and disappointment over the first round exit in the playoffs.

“These guys have been great,” Peverley said. “I am sure it is disappointing for all of them, and it’s disappointing for me because I think we had a good chance to move on. It’s part of the learning process and I’ve seen on the other side, where you miss the playoffs by a couple points or you win by a slight margin. It’s a fine line.”

Peverley was glad he could help out during the stretch drive and playoffs, hitting the ice to assist during practices and offering insight.

“It was just being able to do something to help,” he said. “If it was working with faceoffs with guys and Kelly [Forbes, video coordinator] and I were texting within games if there was something I saw. That’s not something that would go to the coaches, but I think I watch a lot of hockey and have a good eye for it. Just being able to help out with the team felt like I was accomplishing something.

And his teammates said he did just that.

“He’s always talking to us young guys and helps us out,” forward Antoine Roussel said during the playoff series with the Ducks. “I felt like that role has grown since he’s been out. Since he has been taking part in practice, I treat him as a coach. It’s fun to have him around. He’s a great person and has a great mindset for the game, so it’s good to have him to share his experience and share his thoughts about the game.”

And, of course, there is hope among the players that Peverley is back on the ice playing.

“It would be amazing,” said center Tyler Seguin, who was traded to the Stars from Boston along with Peverley last summer. “Obviously it will always be something that is hard for me to talk about because he has been my stall mate for four years and to see what I saw. He’s a guy that works really hard away from the rink, I can imagine him coming back but obviously I don’t know what will happen.”

And at this point, neither does anybody else.

“That's totally in Rich's hands — Rich's hands and the doctor's hands,” Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. “Sometimes I look at it and it’s in God’s hands, too.

This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.

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