Even with all the media attention that was paid to the Rich Peverley cardiac scare, the man himself has remained relatively private about the incident.
There was the news conference a few weeks after his surgery, the media scrum on locker cleanout day and a few brief Q&A sessions at the NHL Awards. And that's been it.
It all makes sense. Peverley is a guy who seems much more comfortable with a supporting role both on a team and in the media. He doesn't seem to enjoy being the center of attention.
But as we move further on into summer and as the somewhat awkward questions about his place in the lineup next season gain a little more relevance, people are understandable curious about where he stands in the process of trying to gain medical clearance to play again. So as he returned to Dallas for another step in that process, he joined the Musers on Sportsradio 1310 The Ticket to talk about it.
You can listen to the full interview here courtesy of the Stars. And for full credit, the transcription of this article was done by the fine people at DallasNews.com if you don't have the opportunity to listen to the interview.
One of the most basic questions is when Peverley might know if his body will allow him to return to the NHL and if he wants to return at all given the very frightening circumstances of his incident.
"I think we’re moving along here and hopefully in the next few months, I’m not sure exactly when, but we’re taking new steps and I’m going to take some new steps here in Dallas in the next couple weeks and we’ll see exactly where I am," Peverley told the Musers. "I’m not exactly sure what’s going to happen, but I’m hoping to play and it’s got to be under the right circumstances. So we’ll wait and see and hopefully I can. I’m kind of hoping that way."
One of the things he made clear in the interview is that throughout the process of ramping his heart rate up so far, he hasn't had an occurrence of either the atrial fibrillation that he dealt with all year or the atrial flutter that may have precipitated the incident in March (and this was the first time I've heard Peverley mention they were tracking him for a-flutter, though the doctors had publicly speculated that it may have played a role before).
In layman's terms, it sounds like that means everything is going as well as can be expected in terms of his recovery. He's now four months out from the incident and a little more than three and a half out from the ablation, and it sounds like the next step in the process will tell a fair amount.
"Well, they cleared me to start the process of working out," Peverley said. "To actually clear me to play is a lot of steps down the road, but they did clear me almost within a couple of weeks of the first surgery that I had. Now it’s just slowly taking steps of getting the heart rate higher. My next step will probably be getting off medication that I’m on to control my heartbeat still. Once I’m off of that, we’ll see what happens in terms of how my heart reacts to no medication and see what happens when it’s stressed."
Being on anti-arrhythmic medications is typical for a patient after an ablation, but from my research on the subject, it appears one of the main ways to tell how well the procedure worked is to get a patient off of those medications and see how the heart reacts. For a typical patient, helping to lower the maintenance medications needed for a-fib (which often, though did not in the case of Peverley, include blood thinners) is one of the main reasons to do the surgery.
Again, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV (though I am in the process of trying to change that), but it would seem to be a fairly large step forward to see how his heart responds to exercise once he's off medications. But they haven't rushed a step in this process so far, and no matter how the next step goes, they're not going to start rushing it now.
So things from a Stars lineup perspective remain as they were before. Peverley is moving forward with the recovery and clearance process with the idea of being able to come back, and the Stars are moving forward as if he has no clear timeline at which he may be available at the moment.
Because the physical issue isn't the only real clearance Peverley will have to get to come back to hockey—there will be some deep thinking for him to do with his family, his team and himself. After everything they all went through, there's bound to be natural hesitancy to return to professional sports.
"When I get to that step and cross that bridge, I’ll cross it," Peverley said. "I think there’s definitely a lot of factors, myself where I am mentally, my family, my wife, I have two kids and I think it’s got to be made under the right circumstances, under the right educated decision.
"So I think in terms of, I think we also have to take into fact of the coaches and the players that were there that night and their comfort level and the organization’s comfort level of having me come back. I can’t answer for anyone else except for myself, but right now I’m motivated to come back. But like I said, it’s got to be under the right circumstances."