DALLAS—In what can best be described as a truly scary and surreal scene at American Airlines Center on Monday night, Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley collapsed on the Dallas bench early in the first period of a game Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets due to a heart episode and after being attended to by a team of medical personnel, was resuscitated before being sent to a local hospital.
Peverley left the ice at 5:50 of the opening period and immediately collapsed on the bench, sending Stars head coach Lindy Ruff quickly into action.
"I was scared," Ruff admitted. "My first emotion was we need somebody here real quick. 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.”
After seeing their teammate collapse, the Dallas players were repeatedly striking the boards with their sticks trying to get the attention of on-ice officials to stop play. The game was finally halted at 6:37 of the opening period.
Following the collapse, Peverley, 31, was quickly taken from the bench area to a hallway behind both benches. While there, he was attended to by medical personnel, who gave him oxygen, administered an IV, performed chest compressions and defibrillated him, a process which resulted in the rhythm to his heart quickly being restored.
Dr. Gil Salazar of UT Southwestern Emergency Medicine was part of the medical team that attended to Peverley following his collapse.
"What I know so far is he slumped on the bench. He was brought back to the hallway for treatment, where we treated him for a cardiac event, successfully treated with standard therapy. As soon as we treated him, he regained consciousness," Salazar said. "He was alert and awake talking to us after the event and quickly transported to the hospital. At this point, I was able to talk to him in the back of the ambulance and he was able to tell me where he was and he actually wanted to get back in the game.”
Peverley’s wife, Nathalie, was at the game and rode with him in the ambulance to UT Southwestern’s St. Paul University Hospital.
Ruff spoke with Peverley after he was revived and said the first thing his veteran center asked him was how much time was left in the first period?
Once Peverley left the ice, players from both teams remained on the ice for about 10 minutes, when they both headed to their respective locker rooms. About 15 minutes later, it was announced that the game had been postponed.
And considering that players from neither team wanted to or could play and since both teams play again on Tuesday, that was clearly the right decision.
"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," Ruff said. "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.”
Prior to the start of the season, Peverley, who was acquired from the Boston Bruins in the July 4, 2013 trade that also netted Dallas Tyler Seguin, had a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat. He missed all of training camp and the Stars’ Oct. 3 season opener against the Florida Panthers.
However, he had experienced no additional issues until last week when he did not travel with the team to Columbus for a game last Tuesday. Peverley was originally listed as out with an upper-body injury but Ruff confirmed his absence was due to his earlier issue when asked about his absence in the loss to the Blue Jackets after morning skate last Thursday.
Dallas traveled to St. Louis as planned on Monday night in advance of Tuesday’s game with the Blues.