Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley responds to questions during a news conference before the Stars' NHL hockey game against the Nashville Predators, Friday, March 28, 2014, in Dallas. Peverley collapsed on the bench during a game earlier this month. He then had surgery to correct an abnormal heart rhythm.
DALLAS — For the first time since undergoing a successful heart procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat last week, Dallas Stars center Rich Peverley addressed the media in a Friday afternoon press conference before the Stars would host the Nashville Predators at American Airlines Center.
Peverley of course is nearly three weeks removed from collapsing on the Dallas bench during the first period of a game with the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 10. After being taken to a hallway behind the bench, where he was revived, he was taken to a local hospital and was released several days later.
He traveled to Cleveland last week to undergo a procedure at the Cleveland Clinic to correct his condition, atrial fibrillation. And the procedure was so successful that he returned to the ice on Thursday for the first time since that procedure.
"Yesterday I just put my skates on and I wanted to shoot on our goalies. There was (some hesitancy) initially, but I think that all got wiped away real quick," Peverley said of returning to the pond. "I think initially coming in this building again too, that was tough because my last memories were of the ceiling pretty much, so I think I was really glad to overcome those really quick."
Stars Director of Medical Services Dr. Robert Dimeff was also on hand at the presser and provided an update on exactly where Peverley is in terms of his recovery process.
"Yeah, so where we stand currently is that he’s still being monitored on a regular basis. We have a couple monitors he’s using to follow his heart rate to make sure he’s in sinus rhythm," Dr. Dimeff said. "He’s on medication to keep the heart rate slow. He’s on medication for blood thinning, which is required after the procedure. And at this point in time, we’re really just ramping up his exercise activity slowly and monitoring him closely. That’s where we are at this point."
Dimeff added that if all goes according to plan that Peverley should be able to stop taking blood thinners in about one month and that in about three months he should be able to return to full physical activity.
After undergoing the procedure, Peverley spoke with former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer, who experienced a similar episode in 2005 and ended up retiring from the game. He also spoke with a former teammate of ex-Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas, who is now playing for the Anaheim Ducks after a trade, and speaking with two such individuals who have experienced a similar situation definitely gave him some peace of mind.
"Speaking with them actually makes me feel a lot better. They say don’t rush to any decisions. So after I keep hearing that, I’m not," Peverley said. "I’m not going to rush on anything. I love to play hockey. I’m passionate about the sport and I want to be around it, so I want to come and I want to see the guys every day at the rink and maybe go on the ice. That’s just what I love to do."
Some players who have experienced similar situations have no memory of exactly what transpired. However, that’s clearly not the case with Peverley.
"I recall everything pretty much," he said. "Initially I didn’t remember my last shift but after watching, I remember what happened. I remember waking up in the hallway and I can tell you everything that happened after that. I don’t want to say I keep replaying it in my head, but sometimes you think about it."
And as expected, when asked if this entire situation has made him see life a bit differently, Peverley said it has.
"Yeah, I think so. I think you appreciate life. I have a beautiful family and two kids and a wife. Initially, you do think about if you weren’t here for them and that’s kind of tough," Peverley said. "I’m lucky to be here and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for that."
Now that he’s undergone the procedure and it was a success, the other question surrounding this veteran centerman is whether or not he’ll play again? Of course, the answer to that query is to be determined.
"Well, I think it’s a question that I think initially I really wanted to know the answer to and it’s going to be a process of coming back. The recovery process is going to take time and as cliché as this sounds, I’ve really learned this the past week that it is day-by-day," Peverley said. "I went on the ice yesterday and ultimately my goal would be to come back if it’s the right time."
Along with the Bruins, Thrashers and Predators, the Stars are the fourth different team he has laced ’em up for. And if one were to ask any of his current or former teammates about what defines "Pevs," it’s that he epitomizes what a team-first guy should be.
So, that’s why it wasn’t at all shocking to hear him say that having the spotlight on him during this situation made him feel a bit uncomfortable.
"I don’t want the spotlight. I’ve never been that type," Peverley said. "It’s not something I’m searching for. I feel horrible for the team. I don’t want this to be a sideshow. I know they (the Stars) are going for the playoffs. They’re only a few points out. The focus should be on them and them trying to make the playoffs for the city. I’m hoping that this can be put to rest and everyone can move on after this. I’m doing well now. I’m under great care and I wish the team the best and that’s why I’m hoping to be there to support them the way they supported me."