Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley is making progress since surgery to correct an irregular heartbeat. He remains hopeful about playing hockey again. But it is still a waiting game as he takes steps along the path to a possible return.
“Everything’s been going really well,” Peverley said in an interview with KTCK 1310 The Ticket on Friday. “I’ve been taking steps along the way here to see how my heart reacts to ongoing steps that I’ve been taking and it’s been going really well. Just been ramping it up as time goes on and as I keep achieving new goals, and everything’s been going really well.”
Peverley said it is still too early to tell about a possible return to the ice. While he is moving forward, there are more hurdles to clear.
“I think we’re just in the middle of the process still,” he said. “I think we’re moving along here and hopefully in the next few months, I’m not sure exactly when, but we’re taking new steps and I’m going to take some new steps here in Dallas in the next couple weeks and we’ll see exactly where I am. I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen, but I’m hoping to play and it’s got to be under the right circumstances. So we’ll wait and see and hopefully I can. I’m kind of hoping that way.”
It’s been a little more than four months since Peverley collapsed on the bench during a game between the Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets at American Airlines Center. Peverley’s heart was beating very fast and then stopped, perhaps for about 10 seconds. Medical personnel on hand quickly performed CPR.
“The team, the Dallas Stars medical staff and the doctors that were on call at the arena that night, they were quick to react and having a plan set out like they did I feel it saved my life,” Peverley told The Ticket. “To them I’m forever grateful and ever since then, I’ve been surrounded by a good medical team. I’m really lucky to have the people that I have around me. Hopefully continue on these steps, we’ll see what happens. I’m really happy with the treatment that I’ve gotten so far.”
A little more than a week after the March 10 incident he underwent surgery in Cleveland to correct the problem.
“It was an ablation, they essentially burn out new electrical pathways for your heart,” Peverley said. “It was to correct the a-fibrillation and the a-flutter that I had and it was successful and I’m still doing well. I haven’t had any heart arrhythmia since then, so far it’s been a success.”
Doctors cleared him for light workouts a couple weeks after the surgery and he’s been working at increasing his heart rate during those sessions. There are more targets he needs to hit down the road.
“To actually clear me to play is a lot of steps down the road, but they did clear me almost within a couple of weeks of the first surgery that I had,” Peverley said. “Now it’s just slowly taking steps of getting the heart rate higher. My next step will probably be getting off medication that I’m on to control my heartbeat still. Once I’m off of that, we’ll see what happens in terms of how my heart reacts to no medication and see what happens when it’s stressed.”
For Peverley, who turned 32 last week, a possible return to playing hockey will go beyond clearing medical hurdles. There will be other considerations, including his family.
“When I get to that step and cross that bridge, I’ll cross it,” he said. “I think there’s definitely a lot of factors, myself where I am mentally, my family, my wife, I have two kids and I think it’s got to be made under the right circumstances, under the right educated decision. I think we also have to take into fact of the coaches and the players that were there that night and their comfort level and the organization’s comfort level of having me come back. I can’t answer for anyone else except for myself, but right now I’m motivated to come back. But like I said, it’s got to be under the right circumstances.”
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 DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.