By Wednesday, two days after his near-death experience, Rich Peverley was well enough to thank the people who saved his life.
During a news conference at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Peverley acknowledged trainer Dave Zeis and doctors Robert Dimeff, Gil Salazar, and Bill Robertson. Without their swift action, Peverley could have died.
Peverley also had Jiri Fischer to thank.
On Nov. 21, 2005, the former Red Wings defenseman went into cardiac arrest on the Detroit bench. Tony Colucci, the Red Wings’ team physician, gave Fischer chest compressions on the bench, saving Fischer’s life.
But other actions fell short. The nearest stretcher was at the opposite end of the rink. Brendan Shanahan and Kris Draper had to skate across the ice to retrieve it. The compressions took place on the crowded bench in sight of Fischer’s teammates, coaches, and fans.
The NHL was intent on introducing standard emergency protocol following Fischer’s collapse. Some of the league’s current requirements include having at least one doctor within 50 feet of the bench, requiring two team trainers to be certified by the National Athletic Trainers Association or the Canadian Athletic Trainers Association, and having an automated external defibrillator on the home team’s bench. Emergency scenarios must be rehearsed within one month of the start of each regular season.
This was in full view on Monday at the American Airlines Center, where Stars personnel flawlessly executed the NHL’s playbook. According to the Stars, only 14 seconds passed between the time Peverley passed out to when Zeis, along with fellow trainer Craig Lowry, led the charge to hustle him off the bench and into the tunnel for treatment. At first, Peverley did not have a pulse. After emergency personnel started chest compressions, Peverley needed a shock from an AED. Peverley also required oxygen and an IV.
“If something lasted more than 10 minutes, it’s increasingly difficult to effectively resuscitate them,” said Dr. Sharon Reimold, a University of Texas Southwestern cardiologist. “If we could have 14 seconds on every person this happens to everywhere, it would be amazing.”
Doctors are not sure why Peverley wasn’t diagnosed with atrial fibrillation until training camp in September. Peverley did not make any lifestyle changes — Dimeff noted the absence of triggers such as medication, supplements, smokeless tobacco — that could have initiated the condition. Nothing came up in Peverley’s season-starting physical with the Bruins in 2012 after the lockout’s conclusion.
It’s possible, however, that on the biggest stage of his hockey career, Peverley could have been suffering from a heart ailment.
In seven games against Vancouver in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Peverley had two goals and two assists. Peverley scored both of his goals in Game 4. It was the first of four games in which Peverley served as the No. 1 right wing alongside Milan Lucic and David Krejci. Peverley, who started the playoffs as the third-line right wing, finished the series as Nathan Horton’s top-line replacement.
Nothing about Peverley’s performance indicated he could have been playing with a heart condition.
“Maybe he was playing in the Stanley Cup Final in atrial fibrillation that was unbeknownst to him at the time,” said Dimeff.
It was not luck that saved Peverley. The ex-Bruin was in the right place at the right time: within the safety infrastructure that the NHL constructed.
Alexei Cherepanov, however, did not have that opportunity. The Rangers drafted Cherepanov 17th overall in 2007. A year later, Cherepanov died because of a heart condition during a KHL game. Cherepanov did not receive immediate treatment. After several minutes of confusion, teammates carried Cherepanov off the bench. The AED at the rink did not work. The ambulance had left.
In comparison, the response to Peverley was what Dimeff termed “controlled panic.” The heroes worked at frenzied pace. But they knew what they were doing.
“It was on the heels of the Jiri Fischer incident that the NHL got together with physicians and trainers and came up with the standard,” said Dallas general manager Jim Nill, Detroit’s assistant GM at the time of Fischer’s cardiac arrest. “If something happened, they knew how to jump into action. You’re hoping something like that never happens. Unfortunately, it did. Because of that, I’d like to personally thank some people who did an outstanding job.”
Like Fischer’s incident, Peverley’s collapse will have ripple effects. He will undergo ablation, a season-ending procedure to correct his condition. Peverley, in consultation with his family and the Stars, declined to undergo ablation in September because he wanted to make a good first impression on Nill and coach Lindy Ruff.
Peverley’s future in hockey is unknown. According to Reinhold, young and healthy patients such as Peverley can live into their 90s with one ablation. The 31-year-old Peverley and wife Nathalie are parents to Isabelle and Frederik.
“It’s a life experience,” Nill said, referring to Fischer. “It changed him. It made him a better person somewhere down the road. It will do the same thing for Rich. The nice thing is both outcomes were very good.”
The league will also review Peverley’s immediate treatment. The one hitch was that Peverley got stuck briefly between the bench and the platform the coaches stand on. The league may consider widening the tight area. It is stuffed with players, coaches, trainers, equipment managers, and gear. Zeis and Lowry could have used more space to make the right turn off the bench and into the tunnel.
Peverley’s collapse is already affecting his teammates. On Monday night, the Bruins were having a team dinner in Florida. They didn’t know what was going on. But Tyler Seguin kept his former teammates updated on Peverley’s status. Seguin didn’t have to do that. But he did.
The Stars are fighting for the final playoff spot in the West. Don’t think there are many around the league wishing them bad luck.
Kesler injury may be
the end for Canucks
The free-falling Canucks got more bad news on Friday. They learned that Ryan Kesler will be out for several weeks because of a knee sprain suffered on Wednesday during a collision with Winnipeg’s Jim Slater. Kesler’s injury should be Vancouver’s white flag on 2013-14.
It could also mark the end of Mike Gillis’s six-year run at the Vancouver helm.
The Canucks GM started the rebuild by ridding the organization of a fading Roberto Luongo and his cement-block contract. But Gillis couldn’t acquire assets at the deadline for Kesler. Getting young players and prospects for Kesler could have accelerated the teardown. It’s possible that Gillis might not have another opportunity to trade Kesler at the draft in Philadelphia. That responsibility could belong to his successor.
If ownership cleans house by letting Gillis go, it needs a GM with a sharper focus on drafting and developing players. Vancouver’s draft shortcomings do not fall solely on Gillis. Ron Delorme, Vancouver’s chief amateur scout, has not fulfilled his mission of assembling the team’s draft board.
Michael Futa, the Kings’ codirector of amateur scouting, was a candidate for the Buffalo GM vacancy before the Sabres hired Tim Murray. The Kings’ recent picks include Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli, and Linden Vey. They are good, young, inexpensive players. The Canucks don’t have many of those.
Pave gives hopefuls
Hockey is an expensive sport for an amateur. There’s the equipment, which can push $2,000 per season to outfit one player. There’s the cost of ice time. There’s travel to and from tournaments. There’s college tuition if you’re not good enough to land a scholarship or if you attend an Ivy League school.
Imagine, then, a scenario where your supporters assume some of those present costs in return for a cut of your future on-ice earnings.
That’s the concept behind Pave. It is a company tapping into the crowdfunding surge. But where Kickstarter revolves around projects, Pave centers around careers.
“What we’re about,” said Pave cofounder Oren Bass, “is providing an alternative to debt for millennials to fund their careers and dreams.”
Consider, then, a college hockey player with NHL aspirations but playing without a full scholarship. A player could pile up thousands of dollars of student loans. Theoretically, under Pave’s model, the crowd could invest in that player’s prospective NHL salary.
The player would start the process by logging onto Pave’s website and launching a profile. He would post his goal of making the NHL and write why — achievements for previous teams or pro potential, for example — he would make it.
Pave would study the player’s profile. It would vet his identity, achievements, education, and credit history. It would then project how much he could earn as a professional. Pave would determine how much the player would need from his backers, then determine the percentage of his professional income his investors would receive in a five- or 10-year segment. If the player reaches his goal, backers would receive a percentage of an NHL paycheck. Current minimum NHL salary is $550,000 per season.
If the player does not reach pro hockey, investors would not receive their projected percentage. However, they could back the player if he enters a non-hockey career.
There is currently one pro athlete in Pave’s portfolio. Josh Ramey is a mixed martial artist. Ramey is using Pave to fund his athletic career. Ramey is also a nurse. He will enter nursing full time if his MMA career does not work out.
“You’re invested in the person,” Bass said. “If the person isn’t successful, then the backers who backed you initially don’t profit. But there are other things. There’s no limit on what you do in your actual career. In Josh’s case, if he isn’t successful as a fighter, then he can take his freedom into his other job as a nurse. It gives him the ability to go for it and beyond.”
There could be a significant alteration to faceoffs if the GMs get their wish. During their meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., the GMs proposed that if a center cheats on the draw, the linesman will order him back by as much as 18 inches. This would just about guarantee the cheating center will lose the faceoff. Currently, a center caught cheating is thrown out and replaced by another forward. If the NHL’s competition committee approves the change, it would put the Bruins at a disadvantage. The coaching staff regularly sends out two centers for important defensive-zone faceoffs. If the first center is thrown out, the second pivot can step in and take the draw. Even though the two-center method requires changing on the fly, the Bruins feel it’s more important to win the faceoff.
On Wednesday, the Bruins faced Thomas Vanek for the first time as a Canadien. Vanek is one of the game’s most-gifted offensive players. He is excellent at finding soft spots in defensive coverage, protecting the puck down low, and tipping pucks past goalies. But Vanek lined up alongside Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta. The coaching staff often uses Plekanec and Gionta as a matchup duo. Through 66 games, Gionta started only 24.1 percent of his even-strength shifts in the offensive zone, according to www.extraskater.com. Plekanec started only 24.4 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. With the Islanders, Vanek started a team-high 41.7 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone. Two days after a 4-1 loss to the Bruins, the Canadiens moved Vanek to the first line with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais. Vanek will see more offensive chances with Pacioretty and Desharnais, even if he has to move from left to right wing.
Jonathan Toews is regarded as one of the league’s best defensive forwards. He won the Selke Trophy last season, beating out Patrice Bergeron and Pavel Datsyuk. Toews, however, does not see much heavy lifting in the defensive zone compared to his peers. According to www.extraskater.com, Toews started 20.2 percent of his even-strength shifts in the defensive zone through 66 games. In comparison, the Bruins use Bergeron in defensive situations more often. Through 66 games, Bergeron started 34.6 percent of his shifts in the defensive zone. It was the third-highest percentage among team forwards after Chris Kelly (40.4 percent) and Gregory Campbell (37.1). Through 39 games, Datsyuk started 27.3 percent of his shifts in his own end. This doesn’t make Toews a worse defensive player than Bergeron and Datsyuk. But the statistics show the latter are being asked to do more defensive grunt work.
One of Dion Phaneuf’s drawbacks is his joy at throwing a big hit. To do so, Phaneuf vacates an important patch of ice to initiate his launch. Phaneuf submitted a double whammy on Tuesday against San Jose. He drifted to the right side of the neutral zone in an attempt to take off Patrick Marleau’s head. Phaneuf missed and decked teammate James van Riemsdyk, who had been backchecking on Marleau. Randy Carlyle is a no-nonsense coach. But that even Carlyle can’t limit his captain’s tendency to roam underscores Phaneuf’s stubbornness.
Jack Eichel remains committed to Boston University this fall, said a source close to the player. Eichel is considering a move to junior instead of enrolling at BU, according to TSN. Eichel, a Chelmsford native, projects to be a top pick in the 2015 draft. St. John owns Eichel’s QMJHL rights . . . Old friend Mark Stuart picked up a generous four-year, $10.5 million extension with the Jets. Stuart would have been unrestricted after this season. Former teammate Andrew Ference scored a four-year contract with Edmonton, so it’s possible Stuart could have gotten similar term — and better money — on the open market. It helped Stuart that new coach Paul Maurice considers Dustin Byfuglien a forward . . . Detroit GM Ken Holland’s overtime idea looks dead. Holland has been proposing a three-on-three OT if no goals were scored during four-on-four play. Mathieu Schneider, the NHLPA’s special assistant to the executive director, voiced his skepticism of the proposal. Schneider said it would put more strain on the NHL’s best players. One executive rolled his eyes at Schneider’s disapproval. Stars are stars, after all, because they play the most.