Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley says he is working hard to return to the NHL ice after suffering a heart attack during a game three months ago.
"If I can play, great; if I can't, then I'll deal with that at that time," he told The Dallas Morning News in a telephone interview from his home in Guelph, Ontario.
Peverley had been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat before the season and had a procedure to address the problem. In the 62nd game he played last season, though, he collapsed on the bench when his heart stopped. Team medical personnel quickly moved him off the bench and revived him, he was discharged from the hospital two days later. On March 1, he underwent cardiac ablation surgery and has been recovering since.
An important part of his rehabilitation, he said, has been to increase his workout intensity, and with it his heart rate.
"I've been able to do more and use my upper body, so I definitely feel like I'm making progress. But it's just the start. I have a long way to go," he said.
The NHL revealed Wednesday that the 31-year-old hockey journeyman will present the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy at the NHL Awards Show in Las Vegas next week. The award goes to the player "who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey." It is named after the former the one-time centre for the Minnesota North Stars, the Dallas Stars' predecessor, who collapsed on the ice during a game and died of a brain injury in 1968.
Peverley said he will return to Dallas sometime this summer for follow-up testing by the Stars.
The Stars are being patient with Peverley's recovery, general manager Jim Nill said.
"I would say he's being monitored over the next eight weeks just to see where things go and then kind of sit down with the doctors and kind of consult moving forward," he said.