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Thursday, March 13, 2014
Rich Peverley visits Stars' practice

By Richard Durrett
ESPNDallas.com

FRISCO, Texas -- For Dallas Stars forward Alex Chiasson, seeing Rich Peverley walk into the club's weight room at the Dr Pepper StarCenter practice facility provided a huge lift.

"It's awesome," said Chiasson, who missed the Stars' game at St. Louis on Tuesday after witnessing Peverley's collapse on the bench Monday night. "I think just to see him today around and you could see the guys happy to see him. We're just happy he's healthy and back with his family."

Chiasson didn't feel well after Peverley's cardiac event but visited Peverley at the hospital Tuesday. Chiasson practiced with the team Thursday and is expected to play Friday against Calgary.

Rich Peverley
Rich Peverley addressed the media briefly on Wednesday and thanked his doctors, the Stars and fans for their support. He will have a procedure soon in Cleveland aimed at regulating his heart rate.

"I had never seen anything like that happen," Chiasson said. "For me, Pevs was someone I sat next to in the locker room, was someone that took care of me on the road and was the first one to text me to see if I wanted to go to dinner. For the young guys, it's always hard to open up and ask questions, and he was the guy I leaned on for that type of thing throughout the year.

"Emotionally, it was really hard. There's different thoughts that go through your mind. You never want to see anything like that."

Chiasson's locker is beside Peverley's, both at the practice facility and at American Airlines Center.

Peverley was diagnosed in a preseason physical with atrial fibrillation, a common type of heart arrhythmia. It was managed through medication and monitoring during the season, but Peverley's heart was beating at a high rate as he skated to the bench early in the first period Monday. He collapsed and Dr. Robert J. Dimeff, primary care sports medicine director at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, said Peverley's heart probably stopped beating for a few seconds before CPR was started.

Peverley's heart was defibrillated successfully on one attempt and he was talking to doctors and coach Lindy Ruff shortly thereafter, asking how much time was left in the period as if he was ready to go back into the game.

He was taken to the hospital and had a battery of tests before he was released about 48 hours later, knowing that he won't be playing for the rest of the season. It didn't take him long to want to come to Frisco and check in with his teammates.

"It was good to see him," defenseman Trevor Daley said. "The flight to St. Louis, you could hear a pin drop, just like on the ice [Monday]. Guys were still pretty unsure what the whole situation was. He sent us a message when we landed and that relieved us a little bit and then we found out he was doing better. It was such a surreal thing and pretty scary."

Ruff talked the past two days about how the team has come together and handled a difficult situation the best it could. And the coach was pleased that Peverley stopped by, something he thinks was good for Peverley and the team.

"It put a smile on everybody's face," Ruff said. "You look at him and you feel like he hasn't been gone or missing for the last couple of days.

"I think it means a lot -- that camaraderie in the dressing room and the line he plays with, the teammates he sits next to, just to walk back in the facility here and be part of it. For him, this is tough because hockey has been his life and he gets to come and watch practice, and I'm pretty sure watching practice wasn't what he had in mind. At the same point, it had to be a real good day for him."

Peverley will now head to Cleveland to undergo surgery to help attempt to regulate his heartbeat. The recovery time is two or three months. Doctors will evaluate him before discussing what it means for the rest of his career.