BOSTON (CBS) — Hockey is played with arguably the most intensity in all of sports, as each and every player puts his own health and welfare on the line every single time his skates touch the ice. One mistake or one misstep can lead to an opponent taking advantage of a situation and delivering a hit at a speed that can’t be reached in any other sport with a force that can produce serious bodily harm.
While the inherent violence of hockey undeniably exists, so too does a feeling of brotherhood that may also be unrivaled.
The Bruins — and their fans, too — felt that bond on Monday night, when Rich Peverley was rushed off the bench in Dallas after a “cardiac event.” It was a frightening moment for anyone watching when Peverley collapsed, but fortunately, he was revived and brought to a local hospital, where he recovered.
Many of the Bruins were eating together in Florida when they got the news, and they immediately grew concerned about Peverley, who won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2011 and was teammates with much of the current roster for three seasons.
“Right away you just want to make sure he’s OK. That’s the initial reaction,” Shawn Thornton said of his thoughts after hearing the news, according to The Boston Globe. “You have a terrible feeling in your gut and just hope that he’s OK. I shot a bunch of texts to everybody. Actually [Tyler Seguin] called me right back and gave us the 411.”
Seguin, of course, went to Dallas with Peverley in a trade last summer from Boston.
“I was right beside him there when it was all happening,” Seguin told reporters in St. Louis on Tuesday. “Pevs has been pretty much in every memory I have in my pro hockey career so far. He was traded from Atlanta during my first year in Boston, sitting beside me every game in Boston, and over here, and winning a Cup together.
“Thank God he’s OK,” Seguin continued. “I think there’s times in there where you’re not focusing at all about hockey. Hockey’s just a game at that point, and it really puts things in perspective. I think someone up top had a higher plan for him.”
Though Seguin’s former linemate, Patrice Bergeron, wasn’t as physically close to Peverley when the incident happened, the Bruins center’s reaction was just about the same.
“I felt sick to my stomach,” Bergeron said, according to the Globe. “Thoughts and prayers are with him and his family, and I’ll send lots of positive energy also.”
Peverley joined the Bruins on Feb. 18, 2011, just a few days after Chris Kelly joined the team following a trade from Ottawa. The two were both newcomers, but they quickly became core members of the team.
“You could see how much we cared about Rich when we saw that something had happened,” Kelly said, according to CSNNE. “The room was shaken. We were all having a good time out at dinner, and things got really quiet. It totally changed the atmosphere.”
“You never want to see that obviously, but he’s one of our good friends on this team,” Thornton added. “He’s one of the great guys. We were pretty worried. The room went pretty quiet, but he texted me back today though and I think he seems to be doing OK. That’s a positive.”
Nathan Horton, a key member of that ’11 championship team who was knocked out by a cheap shot in Game 3 of the finals and whose spot on the top line was actually taken by Peverley, was playing against Peverley and the Stars during the incident.
“He’s such a great guy, he’s a great teammate, and you don’t want to see that happen to anyone,” Horton told the Blue Jackets’ website on Tuesday. “When something like that happens, I don’t think you’re thinking about the game. You’re worried about him. He’s got a family, he’s got kids. I think the hockey part is last. You just want to make sure he’s OK.”
Obviously, any human being would be worried about anyone in the world who went through what Peverley endured. But the bond that was built in 2011 clearly remained strong, as Horton and Tim Thomas — who once again became Peverley’s teammate last week — both looked on with concern from the ice itself, and as teammates who were 1,00 miles away frantically sent text messages and phone calls hoping to hear that Peverley was OK.
Rich Peverley may be facing an uncertain future in the sport that he loves, but no matter what, he’ll always be a part of a special group of Boston Bruins.