BOCA RATON, Florida - When Rich Peverley collapsed on the Dallas Stars' bench on Monday night, Mathieu Schneider's mind went racing back to November 21, 2005 when Jiri Fischer suffered a similar cardiac event on the Detroit Red Wings bench.
"That was the first thought that came into my head, flashbacks to what happened on that day," said Schneider, who was a teammate of Fischer in Detroit that season. "He's a big man and he collapsed right on me. That was one of the scariest moments of my career. At first you had no idea what was happening but then he started convulsing, it was really scary for everyone."
It's the type of situation that nobody ever anticipates, even less so amongst a group of highly conditioned athletes in peak physical condition.
"It was shocking particularly because Fischer was just an incredible athlete and in amazing shape, you don't expect it," said Schneider. "Last night was another very scary incident; I got texts as soon as it happened."
Fischer was stabilized that day by the heroic work of Dr. Tony Collucci who was on the scene in seconds. His proximity to the bench played a big part in contributing to a positive result. As a result, the NHL requires that doctors have immediate access to the players' bench to act in the case of such events transpiring.
That scenario again played a role in helping to stabilize Peverley on Monday night as doctors were on the scene in seconds, able to treat the Stars forward for what team physician Gil Salazar termed a cardiac event.
"Everything played out and transpired exactly as you would draw it up and luckily we had a fortunate result," said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly.
"The league's done a great job over the years to make sure every safety net is there and available to the guys," added Schneider. "In the two instances that I've known, the doctors have literally saved the players lives."
The news of Peverley's collapse quickly reached the league's general managers who are gathered in Boca Raton, Florida for meetings this week.
"Obviously it was a scary situation," said Daly. "We were all at a general manager's dinner and we were alerted immediately to the events in Dallas. A number of us left the room and were being updated on a step by step basis to what was happening."
Once it became clear what had transpired, Daly explained that the decision to postpone the game came at the urging of both the Dallas Stars and their opponents, the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Having gone through a similar situation himself, Schneider agreed the right decision was made.
"As a player being so close to your teammates, it's too taxing, it's too difficult to go back and I would think you'd be playing half-heartedly in a situation like that," he said.
Daly explained the NHL has identified a date to reschedule the game and intend to announce it later in the week. The Blue Jackets will be allowed to maintain their 1-0 lead that they had built through the first 6:23 of the game though a fresh sixty minutes will be played when the game is made up. The NHL followed the same procedure when the Red Wings and Predators game was completed in 2006 after Fischer's incident, allowing Nashville to maintain their 1-0 lead. The Predators ultimately went on to win 3-2.