Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley is out for the rest of the season, and will undergo a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.
The surgery, originally planned for the offseason, will take place at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
“His season is over,” said Dr. Robert Dimeff, primary care sports medicine director at UT Southwestern Medical Center and director of medical services for the Stars.
The 31-year-old Peverley collapsed on the bench during Monday night’s game against Columbus at American Airlines Center. Medical staff on the scene treated him immediately for a cardiac event. Peverley has undergone testing at UT Southwestern St. Paul University Hospital the past couple days, and those tests have come back normal.
“It’s just this electrical disturbance that he has. And we’re looking back and trying to sort out exactly why that rhythm occurred,” Dimeff said. “It’s very rare to occur but we realize that it did and we’ve got it in control and the plan at this point in time is he’s going to go back to the Cleveland Clinic and do the definitive procedure that we’ve talked about and planned on for the postseason.”
Peverley made an appearance at today’s press conference and gave a brief statement, thanking the medical personnel who jumped to aid him Monday night and all those who offered support in the days since.
“On behalf of my wife, Nathalie, all of my family and myself, I’d like to thank you and to thank all the people that saved my life,” Peverley said. “First, I’m going to start off with Dr. Robert Dimeff, Dr. Bill Robertson, Dr. Gil Salazar and Dave Zeis, our trainer with the Dallas Stars. They all attended to me once I passed out and they saved my life and I will forever be grateful.”
Dimeff said he and his team practice for medical emergencies at the arena, and it took 14 seconds to get Peverley from the bench to the tunnel. Peverley’s heart was beating very fast and then stopped, perhaps for about 10 seconds. But medical personnel on hand – with some help from woman in a green Stars jersey – acted quickly to begin CPR.
“It worked as smoothly as it was supposed to. It’s controlled panic as we call it,” Dimeff said. “But everything was done very professionally and there were no issues whatsoever.”
The timing of the procedure Peverley will have in Cleveland is still up in the air, but it is expected to happen soon. This procedure, called an ablation, is one that was an option when Peverley was first diagnosed with atrial fibrillation just prior to training camp. Peverley decided to wait and have it in the offseason.
“It likely would keep him out for two, three months, maybe longer depending," Dimeff said. "He said, 'I'm new to the team. It's a new coach, a new general manager. I only have a two-year contract. They've got to know that I can play this game,' and that sort of thing, so we went back and forth. That was a joint decision, an informed decision on his part, again in consultation with the cardiology department here and our other consultants.”
Peverley opted for a different procedure in September that kept him out three weeks, missing all the preseason and the first regular season game. His heart was shocked back into normal sinus rhythm, and he was placed on medicine to help keep it in normal sinus rhythm. Doctors have monitored him closely all season.
He’s been doing well, but did miss one game last week when he felt sluggish in the game the night before. Doctors altered his medication and Peverley played in two games before Monday’s incident.
Doctors are not sure how long Peverley has had the heart issue, but Dimeff speculated that he could have been playing with it when he was in last season’s Stanley Cup Final with the Boston Bruins.
Asked if it would be safe for Peverley to play hockey again, Dimeff said it is too early to address that question.
“It’s a very unique situation,” said Dimeff. “Until everything is further worked out and defined, we’re not really ready to make that kind of decision at this point.”
Chiasson doing better
Stars forward Alex Chiasson, who was shaken up by Monday’s incident involving Rich Peverley, is doing much better. Chiasson did not make the trip with the Stars for Tuesday’s game to St. Louis, but is expected to play Friday against Calgary.
“I talked to Alex this morning. He skated. He’s doing good. He’ll be back in all likelihood for our next game,” said Stars coach Lindy Ruff. “The thing that made him feel a lot better was seeing Rich the next morning. That put a smile on his face. It was good to see the smile on Alex’s face.”