DETROIT >> One day Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley may call to thank former Wing Jiri Fischer for having a hand in saving his life.
Peverley went into cardiac arrest during the Stars’ game against the Columbus Blue Jackets, Tuesday night, which looked eerily similar to what happened to Fischer back in 2005 at Joe Louis Arena.
“If I compare both videos, (it) looked just as scary,” Fischer said. “They’re very similar. Both came halfway through the first period. He was being resuscitated in the room, I was being resuscitated on the bench. The one big difference was I was unconscious.”
Fischer collapsed on the bench on Nov. 21, 2005 against the Nashville Predators and it ended his playing career at age 25.
“Piet (Van Zant), Russ (Baumann), (Tony Colucci), Doug Plagens, the whole staff saved my life,” said Fischer, who’s now 33. “I’m glad Dallas’ staff did the same for Rich.”
The game between the Stars and Blue Jackets was postponed just like the Wings game with the Predators was back in 2005.
“Certainly there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about how it would be and what my career would’ve been like,” said Fischer, who the Wings’ top pick, 25th overall in the 1998 entry draft. “It’s not easy, but it’s reality.”
The incident with Fischer raised awareness immediately and led to changes in arenas and other facilities so to be better prepared for such emergencies. The first of which was having defibrillators nearby and people trained on how to use them.
Also, evacuation procedures were reviewed and now hallways in arenas are clear during games to ensure that an emergency vehicle would have easier access in and out.
“It certainly got a lot of attention,” Fischer said. “It was the first incident of that kind on national TV, the first cardiac arrest live on TV. It made a lot of people think hard about it.
“It started an avalanche of great things that hopefully people will benefit from,” Fischer continued. “Unfortunately, cardiac arrests will continue to happen. But everyone is doing their best to prevent them.”
Fischer reached out to former Wings assistant general manager Jim Nill, who’s now the Stars’ GM, and asked if it was appropriate to talk to Peverley.
“The reality is now what,” said Fischer, who’s currently the Wings’ director of player development. “(Peverley) is doing better, really well. His wife obviously is part of the whole thing and she’s doing well. I called Rich and left him a message. When I went through it, I didn’t want to talk to anybody for days. Teammates stopped by (the hospital), it’s chaotic. I hope he’s OK.”