Those of you who know me well, know that I am an avid hockey fan.
So much so, in fact, that my right leg adorns a tattoo of one of my favorite goaltenders who used to play for the Florida Panthers, Trevor Kidd.
But in all my years of watching the sport, I don’t think I’ve ever felt what I felt last week as I watched the Dallas Stars taking on the Columbus Blue Jackets March 10.
I didn’t have tickets to the game but was watching it on TV. Shortly before the game started, I took a moment to walk Baby - my soon-to-be 8 year old mini-dachshund - so I could watch most of the action without interruption. As I normally do, I left my cell phone behind because I can handle 10-15 minutes without it.
When I got back upstairs, there was the familiar green light flashing that indicated I had missed a call, text or e-mail. I opened it up to a text from my good friend Charlotte - a Stars season-ticket holder - and all it said was, “What happened?”
Initially, I thought she had texted me by mistake so I innocently and somewhat sarcastically replied, “With?” That’s when she informed me that something had happened to one of the Stars players on the bench and being that she was at the game, she wanted to know what the TV announcers were saying about it. She had speculated it was forward Rich Peverley but didn’t know for sure. I immediately went and looked at my television.
I hadn’t realized it until later but the broadcast had gone silent and all they were showing were pictures of hockey players kneeling on the ice with lowered heads. No banter from Darryl Reaugh or Ralph Strangis - the Stars play-by-play announcers - just silence. The American Airlines Center was equally as silent, fans obviously concerned about what was happening in the less that seven minutes-old game.
Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, Strangis spoke and recapped the situation. About six and a half minutes into the game, there seemed to commotion on the Stars bench with players frantically banging their sticks on the ice and motioning for the referees to stop the game. When that didn’t work, a flood of players hit the ice and play was stopped. Though it couldn’t be confirmed at the time, Strangis said it appeared that Peverley had suffered some sort of “medical emergency,” adding that he had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in training camp and that he was the only one not on the ice.
At that moment, MY heartbeat was irregular too. Granted, I have seen my share of players being carted off the ice with blood gushing from their face or their leg bent in an awkward direction but when it comes to the stuff you can’t see, it is all the more frightening. And the lack of knowing what was happening was even worse.
Thankfully, word came that Peverley was conscious - even asking head coach Lindy Ruff how much time was left in the period - and being taken to a local hospital. He was released two days later after undergoing tests to determine the cause of the “cardiac event” he suffered.
Then, at a press conference on Thursday, Peverley, 31, and his doctors said he would not return to the ice again this season and instead undergo a procedure to correct the irregular heartbeat at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio.
The incident got me to thinking that while most of us hockey fans enjoy the toughness of players who have played through broken wrists, jaws and other fractured body parts, there are just some things you shouldn’t play through and this is one of them. I am thankful Peverley is getting the care he needs but I’m even more thankful that he is still alive to get that care. Kudos to all who saved him that fateful night.
A comical side note: I got to see my friend Charlotte reading my text aloud to those who were with her that night on TV as they panned the crowd. I couldn’t hear her, of course, but I could lip read what she was saying. For some reason, it made me giddy and I almost felt as if I’d made it on TV too.
Yes, I’m THAT gal!