Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley went on the ice prior to Thursday’s practice in Frisco for a light skate. Dressed in a track suit he shot some pucks at goaltenders Kari Lehtonen and Tim Thomas. It was a step forward as he recovers from season-ending surgery for an irregular heartbeat.
“I feel great,” Peverley said Friday evening at a news conference at American Airlines Center. “I’ve gone back into my sinus rhythm and I think under instructions of the doctors, I’ve been able to start working out and monitoring my heart rate. Going on the ice leisurely I think is something that shouldn’t be a problem.”
It’s been almost three weeks since Peverley collapsed on the bench during a game between the Stars and Columbus at the AAC. Peverley said time has helped all the memories come back.
“I recall everything pretty much,” he said. “Now that I go back and I’ve had a lot of time to think about, 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.”
Peverley had surgery last week in Cleveland. Dr. Robert Dimeff, Director of Medical Services for the Dallas Stars, gave an update on Peverley’s status at Friday’s news conference.
“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,” 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 said it is too early to make a call if Peverley can play again. Peverley said he’s learning to be patient when it comes to that question, but his goal is to come back.
“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,” Peverley said. “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. I went on the ice yesterday and ultimately my goal would be to come back if it’s the right time.”
Outside of a brief statement he gave to the media, this was the first time Peverley had spoken to the media since the incident. It’s put him in the spotlight, something that has made him a little 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're 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."
Peverley said he was thankful for the support of the Stars organization since the incident. He’s also heard from other players who had similar experiences, including former Detroit Red Wing Jiri Fischer, who collapsed on the bench during a game from a heart issue in 2005.
“I spoke with Jiri Fischer days after. He reached out right away and I think Jiri knowing [Stars GM] Jim Nill that really helped. I spoke with Jiri on the phone,” Peverley said. “I also spoke with another person through [former Stars defenseman] Stephane Robidas who went through a similar incident and he was a hockey player who played in Europe. 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. 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.”
And Stars coach Lindy Ruff said Peverley’s love for the game was evident when he hit the ice for that light skate in Frisco on Thursday.
“It puts a smile on your face,” said Ruff. “I think it’s great therapy for him, too, to get back on. You play hockey from a young age, get to the pros and all of a sudden that abruptly stops for you. I know he had a smile on his face when he got off the ice because that is what he’s been doing all this life.”
Quotable: Rich Peverley on if he views life differently now
“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. I’m lucky to be here and not a day goes by that I’m not thankful for that.”
Quotable: Nashville coach Barry Trotz on Peverley, who used to play for the Predators
“Rich has always been one of the guys I admire, the way he’s come through Milwaukee and finding his way onto our roster, finding himself in Atlanta. He had turned himself into a great pro and a good player. He sort of got a second chance. When you’re that close to I guess death and he was very fortunate to have such a good medical staff here being in the venue right here, he’s got a young family. He’s a young guy. He’s going to obviously take some time off. He’s got a second chance at life. Whatever happens or whatever decision he makes going forward, I think the No. 1 thing is that he’s got a second chance and he’s blessed to have that. I think that he sits down with his family and hopefully everything falls into place and he gets back playing hockey, but if he doesn’t, he has a second chance at life, and he’s a great young man.”
*The Stars have points in seven straight home games (6-0-1) and are 8-1-1 in their last ten at American Airlines Center.
*The Stars improved to 8-6-1 since the Olympic break.
*The Stars improved to 10-11-5 vs. the Central Division.
*The seven goals scored matched a season-high for the Stars, who also tallied seven at Calgary (Nov. 14) and vs. Toronto (Jan. 23).
*Seven different Dallas players scored goals in Friday’s game and 13 players registered points.
*The Stars outshot the Predators 29-28. Several players were tied for the team lead with three shots on goal.
*The Stars were 1-1 on the power play and 1-1 on the penalty kill.
*Tyler Seguin ran his points streak to 11 games (7 goals, 11 assists, 18 points).
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