Last night, an ordinary regular season game between the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Dallas Stars turned into a life or death situation. Dallas forward Rich Peverley, who along with teammates Tyler Seguin and newly acquired goaltender Tim Thomas and Columbus forward Nathan Horton was one of four members of the 2011 Stanley Cup winning Bruins team playing in the game, finished his shift and went to the bench. Peverley, who had been diagnosed with a heart condition over the summer after the Bruins traded him to Dallas, collapsed while sitting on the bench, and there was a scramble on the Stars’ bench to get him the medical attention he needed. As it turns out, Peverley’s heard had stopped and he needed to be revived with a defibrillator. The medical staff saved Peverley’s life last night, and the NHL rightfully postponed the rest of the game.
When Peverley regained consciousness, he asked to go back into the game. Gotta love hockey players. Pevs was not the most skilled player on the Bruins, but he was rarely out of the lineup during his time in Boston and he was part of the most successful three year run the B’s have had in my lifetime, highlighted by beating Vancouver in the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011 and facing Chicago in the Finals in 2013. He stepped up on the Bruins’ top line in the Finals after Nathan Horton was concussed on a dirty hit by Aaron Rome, and kept the machine rolling. He caught a lot of grief in 2013 when his offensive production dropped off and was part of the infamous “High Glass Line” that could never seem to find the net. Even if he wasn’t a Bruin, I would have felt compelled to write about this incident because it’s one of the scariest things you can possibly experience in a hockey game, but the fact that so many former Bruins were involved only makes it hit closer to home.
The Stars are right in the thick of the playoff race in the Western Conference, currently sitting on the #8 seed, one point ahead of the Phoenix Coyotes. Rich Peverley is lucky to be alive, and it’s uncertain if or when he will play again, but the Stars have found themselves a figure to rally around. Tim Thomas was a good pickup for them last week, and he has a well documented history of playoff success. This could also be the kind of human interest story that gets casual fans tuned into hockey, and could make Dallas a popular bandwagon to jump on this spring.
Making the playoffs and winning games are obviously important to the Stars’ players and coaches, but last night they dealt with a situation bigger than hockey. Writers and fans alike use phrases like “fighting for their lives” and “sudden death” as they relate to winning and losing, but what Pevs and his teammates and coaches went through was bigger than that. It puts things into perspective. When you lose a hockey game, life goes on. Right now, the Dallas Stars and hockey fans around North America are just happy that Peverley is stable and expected to make a full recovery. The metaphorical life and death can wait until another day.