One of, if not the, scariest moments of the season took place in Dallas last night, 6:23 into the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Stars were making a routine line change, and the play was still going on, when players on the Stars bench started slamming their sticks against the boards trying to get the attention of the referees. Rich Peverley had collapsed behind the bench.
Eventually the play was stopped, and Peverley was carried into the back. At that time, players and coaches alike were asking the crowd if there were doctors available to help the fallen Peverley. Meanwhile, those players who weren’t actively looking for help, were taking a knee and praying for his well being.
At that moment, players ceased being adversaries, and all focused on the same cause. Both the Stars and Blue Jackets skated off the ice, down the Zamboni ramp, and back into their respective locker rooms. The game had been delayed, and subsequently postponed, while Peverley was attended to.
Peverley had had an operation to attend to an irregular heartbeat. This seemed to be a similar event. He was reported in a stable condition, and conscious by Stars media.
Lindy Ruff had a press conference following the situation, and what he said can teach us a valuable lesson:
“First thing Rich asked me when I spoke to him was, ‘How much time left in the period?’ You know, typical athlete,” said Coach Lindy Ruff. “When he dropped. It was red alert. Don’t worry about the game. It was about getting the doctors.”
“There is not one guy in there who wants to play hockey right now, and I’m not there to persuade them to play, and I don’t want to coach a team right now.”
Hockey is a game where the players are exposed to injury risk whenever they step on the ice. It’s a violent game, and freak accidents can occur. Players can get hit by sticks, pucks, or players, and get hurt. 99.9% of the time, the player gets to the bench, gets attended to, and either returns to the game or leaves the game, while the rest of the team keeps playing.
This was that .1% where the injury has nothing to do with the game. When something like that occurs, especially one that is potentially life threatening such as this case, players stop being players, but return to the status of normal human beings. When a human life is at stake, in a case like this, the color of your jersey and the logo on your chest is completely irrelevant. The Stars and Blue Jackets gathered together by the benches, all concerned for the well being of Rich Peverley.
In the end of the day, it’s a game. As much as us puck-heads love the violence and yell drunkenly at the players to do something to help their team, it’s still just a game. When a human life is at risk, it’s time to stop the game, and make sure that the player gets the proper medical attention required, even if it means the game gets postponed to another night.
There will always be another game. There are more important things than the game. No matter the sport, the place, the time.
We never want something like this to happen. If it should happen again, we should take this event as an example of how to act when something like this occurs.
Keep Rich Peverley and his family in your thoughts and prayers, as we hope for his return to health soon.