When Rich Peverley collapsed, everyone—from the players who immediately summoned help, to the medical staff who treated him, to the officials who decided to postpone the game, to the league and in-arena personnel who kept fans informed—did their jobs perfectly and kept a scare from becoming a tragedy.
Before the season the 31-year-old Peverley was diagnosed with and underwent a procedure for atrial fibrillation, a type of arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. A flare-up of symptoms kept him from flying to last Tuesday's away game (Lindy Ruff said Peverley was in the process of adjusting his medication). So Stars players knew immediately what had happened when he collapsed immediately following a first-period shift. They called for help, banging their sticks, and when play didn't stop, they all poured out over the boards to alert everyone that something serious was going on.
There was no time to get Peverley back to the dressing room. He had lost consciousness, and when clearly suffering what doctors would only describe as "a cardiac event," getting his heart going again as fast as possible was the only thing that mattered. Peverley was carried into the tunnel, where medical staff went right to work. Dr. Gil Salazar described the "standard therapy" Peverley received:
"We provided oxygen for him, we started an IV, we did chest compressions on him and defibrillated him, provided some electricity to bring a rhythm back to his heart," Salazar said. "That was successful with one attempt, which is very reassuring."
Stars coach Lindy Ruff was there when Peverley regained consciousness, and said he immediately knew where he was and what had happened. Ruff said Peverley asked how much time was left, and indicated he wanted to get back into the game. Which was never, ever going to happen.
Ruff told his players that Peverley was alert (information which was quickly and thankfully relayed to fans and viewers), and took the temperature of the room to see if there was any chance of restarting the game. It quickly became clear that this wasn't an option.
"There's not one guy in that room that wants to play hockey right now and I'm not there to persuade them to play," Ruff said. "I don't want to coach a team right now."
That sentiment was relayed to the visiting Blue Jackets. "They're shaken and they want to reschedule," Columbus's president of hockey operations John Davidson said. "We understand that. They were shaken to the core."
Only the NHL can officially postpone a game. But the league's statement, released only a half-hour after Peverley's collapse, cited "the emotional state of the players on both teams caused by the medical emergency." That makes clear that this decision belonged to the Stars, and nobody was going to force them to take the ice again. This game has major playoff implications in both conferences, and it will be tough fitting it into an already-compressed schedule, but good on everyone involved for doing the right thing, and making the call so quickly.