Original Article By Katie Strang | ESPNNewYork.com
Monday night was a frightening for the entire NHL community when Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench after a cardiac event during a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Luckily, Peverley appears to be okay after receiving expert and prompt medical attention. According to a statement from Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill on Tuesday, Peverley is “resting comfortably” and being monitored at UT Southwestern St. Paul, where he continues to undergo testing to find what caused the event.
The scary episode was also a sobering reminder of a similar situation that ended tragically when Alexei Cherepanov died after collapsing on the bench during a 2008 game in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Cherepanov, the Rangers’ first-round pick in the 2007 NHL Entry draft (17th overall), collapsed on the Avangard Omsk bench next to then-teammate Jaromir Jagr and reportedly could not be resuscitated.
The 19-year-old’s death was ruled a heart failure.
Jagr, who now plays for the New Jersey Devils, spoke about the tragic incident Tuesday, telling both The Bergen Record and the Newark Star-Ledger that those memories immediately surfaced when Peverley was taken to the hospital Monday night.
“I was sitting next to [Peverley] in the Boston dressing room for three months,” Jagr told reporters. “So, when I read the news, when I saw the news, it’s pretty scary stuff because I remember what happened in Russia. I think the trainers and the doctors did a great job and probably saved his life. Back in Russia, they weren’t ready for that.”
While Peverley was almost immediately carried off the ice and resuscitated with a defibrillator in what was a lightning-quick response from the team’s medical staff, Cherepanov was not so lucky.
Though the NHL requires every rink to be equipped with a working defibrillator, the defibrillator used on Cherepanov did not have a working battery. Federal investigations into the incident also showed that doctors did not arrive until 12 minutes after Cherepanov collapsed.
“I was sitting next to him on the bench when he collapsed, so that was pretty strange,” Jagr said, according to the Record and Star-Ledger. “But, back then, when he collapsed next to you, you don’t even think it can end like that. We finished the game. We finished the game. We didn’t really know what happened and after the game –- it was like two, three minutes to go in the game anyway –- they couldn’t make him alive.”
Cherepanov’s former agent Jay Grossman said he could empathize with Jagr on drawing parallels between the two situations and said the circumstances “certainly looked reminiscent.”
“I got a huge pit in my stomach. I often think about the Alexei Cherepanov situation,” Grossman said when reached by telephone Tuesday afternoon. “Many, many thoughts run through my head.”
Grossman said he thinks often about Cherepanov’s smile and the winter hat his father gave him as a token of appreciation at his son’s funeral service in Omsk. And though he it’s difficult to find anything positive about such a heart-breaking situation, he does feel like Cherepanov’s sudden death did increase awareness about the need for immediate medical attention and properly-functioning equipment in the case of emergency medical situations.
“I do think what happened to Alexei did have an impact in terms of attention people have placed in having defibrillators present all the time and in good working condition,” Grossman said. “Not even at just the pro level but other levels as well.”
“Nobody can bring Alexei back,” Grossman said. “But if what happened to him helped save someone’s life, it’s the best we can hope for.”