MONTREAL -- The Bruins were out to a team dinner on Monday night when they got the news that Rich Peverley had collapsed on the Dallas Stars bench in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The reaction was as you would expect from a close-knit group of hockey players: real, visceral concern over the well-being of a longtime teammate and good friend.
Clearly the news got better once Dallas team doctors announced that Peverley was conscious, responsive and alert on his way to the hospital, and that an unthinkable tragedy had been avoided by the quick actions of the Stars and Blue Jackets medical personnel. But a phrase like “cardiac event” is something that sounds an ominous tone whenever it’s used.
“I felt sick to my stomach. I was really worried,” said Patrice Bergeron. “The first thing I thought was trying to talk to my teammates to get some updates, and reached out to Tyler [Seguin] to get some answers from him. Its good news that he’s stable, but my thoughts prayers go out to him.
“We were at dinner. Some guys have Twitter, and they were able to find out.”
Shawn Thornton said he actually got a text response back from Peverley on Tuesday letting him know he was okay, but clearly the forward’s battle to get an irregular heartbeat under control is a serious condition. The B’s enforcer was much more concerned about Peverley the person, and friend, than the hockey player…as it should be.
“You never want to see that, but he was one of our good friends on this team. He’s a great guy. Things got pretty quiet [at dinner],” said Thornton. “He texted me back, and let me know that things were going to be okay. Right away you just wanted to make sure he was okay. You had a terrible feeling in your gut.
“We were pretty good friends away from the ice having beers together, or going to concerts. That is a game, and this is life. I’m just hoping for him and his family that he’s okay. The league made the right call [postponing the game], and I’m just glad he’s okay.”
Perhaps closest to Peverley was his former linemate Chris Kelly, who skated alongside Peverley for the three seasons they were together in Boston. Kelly looked emotional as he spoke about his frantic state of mind on Monday night as Peverley’s former teammates tried to get more information as it was unfolding.
“Guys were speaking with Tyler [Seguin] and Nathan [Horton] to get updates, and I sent a text just to let him know we were thinking about him,” said Kelly. “We spoke when I found out he had [the irregular heartbeat], and like all of us he played it down. Then I talked with him briefly through the course of the year, and went out to dinner with him when he was in [Boston].
“You could see how much we cared about Rich when we saw that something had happened. The room was shaken. We were all having a good time out at dinner, and things got really quiet. It totally changed the atmosphere.”
Clearly the hope is Peverley will be with the Dallas Stars sooner rather than later as they make their push for the playoffs, but for the Bruins he is much more than a third line center with a knack for winning face-offs. He’s a friend and family man that was part of a Stanley Cup-winning experience they’ll never forget, and that left the Bruins players feeling both relief and concern on a Tuesday afternoon in Montreal when their minds were far away from the Habs/Bruins game 24 hours away.