Published March 11, 2014
When the pounding of their sticks on the boards didn't get the attention of the officials, Dallas Stars players jumped off the bench and onto the ice while the game was going on.
Their teammate, Rich Peverley, had collapsed, and Stars coach Lindy Ruff was among those trying frantically to carry him into a nearby tunnel.
After the game stopped and the chaotic scene played out, Peverley was stabilized, transported to a hospital and in good condition Monday night.
But for several anxious minutes on the ice, the Stars stood in stunned silence, clearly in distress, unsure what had happened to a player just six months removed from undergoing a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat.
"When he dropped, it was red alert," Ruff said after the game between Dallas and Columbus was postponed with the Blue Jackets leading 1-0 in the first period. "Don't worry about the game. It was about getting the doctors. The players don't want to play, and I don't want to coach the team right now."
Stars forward Erik Cole tried to rush into the tunnel just after Peverley was carried through, only to be turned away. He then gnawed at the thumb on one of his gloves while he waited for word on what the players would do next.
Sergei Gonchar stared blankly near fellow defenseman Trevor Daley, who was hunched over on the bench, wiping his face with a towel.
"I was scared," Ruff said.
Play was halted at 6:23, and the postponement was announced about 30 minutes later.
Dr. Gil Salazar of UT Southwestern Hospitals said Peverley was treated "successfully" for a cardiac event at American Airlines Center.
"We provided oxygen for him," Salazar said. "We started an IV. We did chest compressions on him and defibrillated him, provided some electricity to bring a rhythm back to his heart, and that was successful with one attempt, which is very reassuring.
"As soon as we treated him, he regained consciousness. He was able to tell me where he was."
Many in the hushed crowd lingered long after the postponement was announced "as a result of the emotional state of the players on both teams caused by the medical emergency." The NHL didn't say when the game would be rescheduled.
Peverley's wife, Nathalie, accompanied him to a hospital, and the Stars essentially told the Blue Jackets they weren't up for finishing the game.
"They're shaken and they want to reschedule. We understand that," John Davidson, the Blue Jackets president of hockey operations, told Fox Sports Ohio. "They were shaken to the core."
Peverley missed the preseason and the season opener because of a procedure to correct an irregular heartbeat, a condition diagnosed during a training camp physical. He made his Stars debut on Oct. 5 against Washington.
"We monitor him closely for a different type of arrhythmia he has," Salazar said. "He does have a pre-existing condition, and the condition -- a normal quivering of the heart that does not allow him to send blood to places where he needs to, in his brain and heart."
Peverley sat out last week's game at Columbus because of an irregular heartbeat. He had felt strange after last Monday's game and couldn't fly. He played in Dallas' next two games before Monday.
"There wasn't any concern," Ruff said. "Our doctors have done a fabulous job monitoring the situation."
In 62 games this season before Monday, Peverley had seven goals and 23 assists.
He was acquired last July from Boston with forward Tyler Seguin and defenseman Ryan Button for forwards Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser, and defenseman Joe Morrow.
"The first thing (Peverley) asked me was how much time was left in the first period," Ruff said.
The Stars went to the airport after the postponement, and even had a scheduled departure for St. Louis that was earlier than it would have been if the game was played. Dallas is scheduled to play the Blues on Tuesday night.
"He's going to be OK," Ruff said. "The care he's getting and the care going forward is the most important thing."