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updated: 3/15/2014 11:39 PM

Never question heart of a hockey player

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  • As coach Lindy Ruff looks on, Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley makes a statement regarding his health and the incident that occurred during a game last week when Peverley's heart had to be shocked back to life.

      As coach Lindy Ruff looks on, Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley makes a statement regarding his health and the incident that occurred during a game last week when Peverley's heart had to be shocked back to life.
    Associated Press

 
 

Rich Peverley's heart stopped.

In the tunnel behind the Dallas Stars bench at American Airlines Center, doctors administered oxygen, inserted an IV, performed chest compressions and used a defibrillator.

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Rich Peverley's heart started again.

Less than five minutes later, Peverley told Stars coach Lindy Ruff he wanted to return to the game.

Hockey players, right?

The man's heart stopped for about 10 seconds, doctors think, and after being shocked back to life, Peverley wanted to get back on the ice.

But Peverley's season is over. When -- or if -- he can play again is still to be determined. Peverley will soon have a procedure called an "ablation," designed to treat atrial fibrillation, a surgery he chose not to have last fall and was planning to undergo this summer.

At the University of Texas (Southwestern) in Dallas on Wednesday, Stars team physician Dr. Robert Dimeff explained that Peverley decided during training camp -- after the heart ailment was discovered in a physical -- on a minor adjustment and medication, over missing half the season because of heart surgery.

"He said, 'I'm new to the team. It's a new coach, a new general manager … They've got to know I can play.' And so we went back and forth," Dimeff said. "That was a joint decision, an informed decision on his part."

Hockey players, right?

Dimeff believes Peverley's heart probably raced out of control and then stopped just as he returned to the bench during the game against Columbus last Monday, right before he collapsed over the boards.

At a news conference Wednesday, when he thanked doctors and trainers for saving his life, Peverley was seen wearing a device that monitors his heart rate and automatically implements corrective measures if the heart gets out of rhythm.

This is the same man who wanted back on the ice Monday night.

Hockey players, right?

Peverley's former teammate, Boston's Patrice Bergeron, played Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final with broken ribs, torn rib cartilage, a separated shoulder and a punctured lung that sent him to the hospital in an ambulance two nights earlier in Chicago.

Bergeron needed two nerve-suppressing, painkilling shots so he could play Game 6 and block more shots.

The Blackhawks also had several players in agony during those last few games, and after the Hawks skated the Cup around the ice, Joel Quenneville -- who has coached and played in more than 2,000 NHL games -- was overcome with emotion and admiration after seeing players in such pain.

"I'm just in awe of what these guys have done," Quenneville said, sniffing back the tears. "I think you have to commend the effort of both teams. The series was something very special. Just something very special. Special men, special players."

Hockey players, right?

In the Eastern Conference finals just before the Bruins took on the Hawks, Boston's Gregory Campbell became a bit of a celebrity outside of hockey for having played 47 seconds after breaking his leg on a shot block.

"The way I look at it, I was just trying to do whatever I could to kill the penalty," Campbell said when he met the media during the Cup Final. "There are a lot of players right now that are playing (less than) 100 percent, and there's a lot of guys that play through pain. I don't see myself any different than anybody else in this league."

Campbell was embarrassed by the attention and almost ashamed that he was being singled out.

"I'm no different than anyone else on these two teams," Campbell said. "That's kind of the nature of hockey players. It's not me specifically. It's everybody in this league, the will to succeed and play for your teammates.

"There's 700, 800 other players that are tough like that and play through things every day."

Hockey players, right?

There are thousands of similar examples, like Troy Murray in 1986 playing an entire series against Toronto in the postseason with two broken ribs and a broken hand.

Duncan Keith returning minutes after losing a mouth full of teeth.

Denis Savard skating on an ankle so ripped apart that he could barely walk from the locker room to the ice.

The stories are endless and remarkable.

Just don't ask hockey players to consider themselves something special. They don't think they're tougher than athletes from other sports. There is no unwritten rule or code.

Hockey players don't even think it's a big deal. In fact, they don't think about it at all. They just do it. It's a way of life.

They grow up in a sport where it's not about you. It's about the team. And you play for your team, no matter what.

You play for your teammates because they do the same for you.

You play until someone tells you that you can't.

That's what happened to Rich Peverley, whose heart stopped before he finally stopped.

Hockey players, right?

brozner@dailyherald.com

• Listen to Barry Rozner from 9 a.m. to noon Sundays on the Score's "Hit and Run" show at WSCR 670-AM.

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