Dallas Morning News beat writer Mike Heika holds an always-informative chat about the Dallas Stars every week, and this week he addressed a question that has been on the lips of those who care about the team for a while now - the status of forward Rich Peverley.
In between discussing the free agent situation for this offseason, the goaltending conundrum and the future of the defense, Heika was asked a few times Peverley, about whom the team has been very quiet since a brief update at training camp.
The first question and response were very telling of both the fans' curiosity and how those close to the team
Hi Mike, about Rich Peverley, how can he find out if he can play again? Is it about how he feels? Are the doctors capable of clearing him to play based on the records of his heartbeat or something?
This has been an inquiry popping up several places in Stars-land, from social media to our comment section, with increasing regularity. After all, it's been four months since we last got our official update on Peverley's recovery from his heart procedures and more than 10 months since that frightening incident last March.
One would have expected to hear something if a firm decision had been made either way, and Heika explained it's the sort of story where the media around the team is just going to let the game come to them.
We've sort of just let him work it out and have not bothered him much. If he can play, they will pretty much spring it on us, but he doesn't want to be bugged about it, so we don't bug him. Bottom line, he could get clearance from the doctors, and then he would have to have a long talk with his family about if they want him to try to come back. Then, if the doctors and family agree that they want him to come back, the Stars have to agree that they want to go through the risk of putting him back on the ice. It's a very complicated process, and they are probably not going to let us inside of it at any point. Like I said, if he returns this season, my guess is they will just spring it on us.
That all makes sense, from the Stars approach of radio silence to the media's decision not to press anyone on the matter. This is a very different matter from a knee injury and even those players suffering from long-term concussion symptoms.
From a medical perspective, they're in rarely charted waters. While it is rare for athletes who suffered from sudden cardiac arrest to receive medical clearance to return to play, it has happened before. But every situation is different, and every underlying cause unique to that person.
As Heika mentioned, there are several steps in this process if the goal is returning to the ice beyond the medical clearance at every step . There's the organization's comfort, the insurance company's comfort, the league's comfort and, most importantly, Peverley and his family's comfort with any potential return to play.
Any one of those is full of achingly difficult soul-searching that is probably best served by being out of the public eye.
Plus, while as fans we would all love to know about every potential step in his recovery, whether or not that involves hockey, there's something to be said for rehabbing from a situation like this in private as well. The worst thing in the world would be to take a first skate with an eye toward return under the glare of the spotlight. Peverley was never a player who liked all eyes on him to begin with, and it's almost certainly not something he's looking for now.
What we can tell you as a DBD staff is that Peverley is still very much a part of the team, attending the home practices and games and continuing to work out at the Frisco practice facility. He remains very much a part of the group even though he is not playing.
The big picture is probably this - Peverley remains under contract until the end of the season, and the Stars have the cap flexibility to activate him from long-term injured reserve if that comes to pass.
But no news at this point is simply that - no news. If he is able and wants to return to play at some point this season, there will likely be minimal lead up, which is for the best for all involved.