It's the first day of training camp across the NHL, a day unique for the unified sense of optimism across fans of all teams. After all, it's time for a fresh start. New faces, shiny new rookies and prospects and 164 possible points are all in the immediate future.
At least, of course, until injuries strike. The Carolina Hurricanes got terrible news yesterday when they learned Joni Pitkanen was out for the season, and while the Stars situation isn't quite as dire, there were two slightly concerning notes out of the first day of training camp.
The one that's garnered the most attention is the fact that Rich Peverley missed the first day of practice after a "blip" showed up on his EKG. Although quotes have yet to trickle out from the players or coaching staff, general manager Jim Nill has already stopped to address the media. One of the things he addressed was the Peverley situation.
"The EKG showed up something and you know we're very sensitive to that and we've got him getting checked over some more," Nill said. "If everything's OK he'll be back tonight and back on the ice tomorrow."
Before everyone goes and panics, this is very likely an overabundance of caution on the part of the Stars and team doctors. EKGs (also called ECGs) track the electrical activity in your heart, and the readings are extremely sensitive. The downside of that sensitivity is that many times when something "shows up," it's nothing of any medical significance.
There's a really good article from the Journal of Athletic Training that reviews why EKGs are used in athletic screening. It gives summaries of the underlying conditions trainers and team doctors are looking for as well as goes through several studies about the accuracy and usefulness of EKG screenings.
The takeaway from that article, at least in this case, is that EKGs have a very high rate of false-positive results when it comes to sports physicals, meaning there is something abnormal on the test that doesn't correspond to an underlying syndrome or structural change. The American Heart Association actually doesn't recommend EKGs as part of high-school athletic physicals because of the high false positive (as well as false negative) rate.
All that said, the professional sports leagues have the resources to easily go to the next step of screening to rule out anything serious. In a situation where the cost of further testing is no concern, there's no reason not to do it other than a day or so of anxiety in the false-positive cases. The NHL (or at least former NHL players) has had a string of deaths from heart-related issues, from Sergei Zholtok to Alexei Cherepanov to Brett MacLean's near miss last summer. Given the potential consequence, going the extra mile to rule things out makes sense.
Still, this will more than likely resolve with nothing more than a day or two of anxiety. Assuming the rest of the tests check out, Peverley will be on the ice with his new teammates soon.
A player who won't be on the ice soon is defenseman Aaron Rome. Rome, who played 27 games for the Stars last season, had offseason hip surgery to remove some bone growth on his femur and still needs time to heal.
"Close to the start of the season," Nill said, when asked when Rome would be ready. "I don't want to give any definite times because I know how injuries are and all that, but he'll be ready some time in October."
So other than that drama, how are things going at the first training camp under new coach Lindy Ruff?
"It was a great pace," Nill said. "Lindy is a very great coach as we all know. I loved the crispness of the practice. It's a high pace. You know we just came back from Traverse City and the pace was fast there. Those are younger kids and you come here and it's amazing to watch the pros, the guys who have been around a long time and just watch how they approach business. It was all business out there. They worked hard and that's what we're looking for."
As far as in-person observations, our very own Taylor Baird is out at the Fort Worth Convention Center and was live-tweeting from the practice sessions earlier today. Check out her Twitter feed @taylordbaird and tune into DBD later today for a full write up.