It’s been rough going for the Dallas Stars.
The team suffered a set back last Saturday, when starter goalie Kari Letohnen left a game against the Minnesota Wild with a concussion.
Then, on Tuesday night, roughly six minutes into their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets—forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the Stars bench.
What followed was tense enough for me, watching from the comfort of my own home. I can only imagine what it must’ve been like for the Stars, to see their friend and teammate carried down the tunnel, unconscious.
Both teams eventually left the ice, and the call came in from Toronto that the game was officially postponed. The NHL made the right call, there. Tyler Seguin, when asked the next day about the suspended game, said he took off his pads the minute he hit the locker room. “I wouldn’t have been able to play,” he said.
The Stars traveled to St. Louis without Peverley, who was under observation at UT South Western St. Paul Hospital. The team was also minus forward Alex Chiasson, who was being treated for a panic attack he suffered in the wake of witnessing Peverley’s collapse.
The Stars rallied in St. Louis and defeated the Blues in overtime—collecting a vital two points towards their play off race.
Before the game Stars Captain Jamie Benn told reporters, “I guess tonight we play for Rich.”
The Stars medical team discovered the condition that caused Peverley’s collapse—atrial fibrillation— when he reported to Stars training camp. Peverley was given the option to surgically correct the condition or undergo a less invasive form of treatment that would get him on the ice sooner, rather than later. Peverley chose the less invasive option, citing a need to prove himself as a new player with a new team as the motivator behind that decision.
Doctors treating Peverley say he’s been closely monitored all season, on the proper amount of medication—and that it was always the plan for Peverley to receive the more invasive treatment for his condition after the season was over.
Unfortunately this past Tuesday’s event moved up that timeline. Peverley will travel to Columbus as soon as possible, where a specialist will treat his atrial fibrillation.
Officially, Rich Peverley’s hockey season is over.
During the press conference, medical staff stressed that the treatment Peverley would be receiving in Columbus has a track record of delivering positive long-term results to patients. Doctors refused to speculate as to whether Peverley’s hockey career was over, and called what happened to Peverley “a very unique situation.”
Stars Coach Lindy Ruff didn’t mince words, and said what happened to Peverley was a “Tough emotional event for the whole team.”
It’s not hard to believe. Peverley is a respected veteran of the game. You could tell that much in the wave of concern that followed the incident on Tuesday. Peverley’s former teammates on the Bruins kept in constant contact with Tyler Seguin in order to stay updated. And when it was clear that the Dallas Stars were in no mood to play a game on Tuesday night, the Columbus Blue Jackets were right behind them in skating off the ice.
After the game’s postponement, Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said, “Some things are bigger than hockey.”