Earlier this week, a game between the Dallas Stars and Columbus Blue Jackets came to an abrupt and premature halt when Dallas forward Rich Peverley collapsed on the bench. He suffered a cardiac arrest as the result of a ventricular fibrillation, which is a kind of heart arrhythmia.
Now Peverley is stable and set to undergo surgery, having survived a “cardiac event” that claims 90% of its victims. However, at the time you could hear a pin drop in American Airlines Center as players and fans looked on, anxiously awaiting an update on the terrifying situation.
Unfortunately this was not the first time an arena full of NHL fans had been left breathless by a near-death situation. It’s merely the latest instance. Click on the arrows to learn about some other horrifying incidents that left everyone in disbelief.
Be warned, though. Some of them are not for the faint of heart.
In October of 2010, Czech netminder Ondrej Pavelec of the then-Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets) suddenly collapsed to the ice during a break in the action, just 2:25 into the first period. At the time, players and fans had no idea what to think, and so many of them feared the absolute worst. Fortunately it was later determined that Pavelec had suffered a neurocardiogenic syncope—or in other words, he simply had a fainting spell, which causes no cardiological or neurological damage.
11. Ondrej Pavelec's Collapse
Zach Redmond of the Winnipeg Jets suffered a hockey-related near-death experience last year and it didn't even occur during the course of a game. It happened at practice. Practice.
The rookie d-man nearly bled to death on the ice—no hyperbole—when his thigh got slashed by a teammate's skate on February 21, 2013. Fortunately team trainers were able to stabilize the artery and get him off to the hospital before his heart gave out.
Initially doctors were preparing Redmond for the possibility or nerve damage that might prevent him from ever playing hockey again. However, just two months later he was back on the ice training, and in November he made his return to the NHL.
10. Zach Redmond's Gash
On February 20, 2008, Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik lost a whopping five pints of blood when the skate of a teammate nicked his carotid artery. Though he was able to skate over to the bench, the blood loss soon sent him into shock, and he had to be put on a ventilator when he had trouble breathing.
Amazingly, the guy was back on the ice seven months later.
9. Richard Zednik's Gusher [WARNING: LOTS OF BLOOD]
Ryan Marchment had a bad reputation among NHL fans, many of whom views him as a bit of a head hunter. However, no one took delight in what they saw on April 18, 1997.
It was Game 2 of the Western Conference quarterfinals between the Stars and Marchment's Oilers. While shooting the puck, he lost his footing and fell headfirst into the boards. That alone would have been bad, but it was made so much worse by the fact that, at the exact moment of impact, the Stars' Guy Carbonneau opened the door to the penalty box, and Marchment hit his head on the door post.
What you do not see in this video is the aftermath—Marchment having a seizure and convulsing on the ice. Everyone watching live on Hockey Night in Canada saw it, though.
8. Bryan Marchment's Seizure
This one didn't seem as scary at the time as it does now that we know all the facts. During a second round playoff game against the Red Wings in 1998, Chris Pronger, then of the St. Louis Blues, got hit square in the chest by a Dmitri Mironov slapshot. The impact was so severe that it caused a cardiac arrhythmia, which in turn led to brief cardiac arrest as Pronger collapsed to the ice and remained unconscious for 30 seconds.
Fortunately Pronger's heart started going again on it's own. However, as you can imagine, it put a pretty good scare in him.
7. Chris Pronger's Shot to the Chest
Former Montreal Canadiens forward Trent McCleary was not as lucky as the other players we've seen so far on this list. On January 29, 2000, McCleary was hit in the throat while sliding to block a slapshot off the stick of Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Therrien. The impact fractured his larynx and crushed his windpipe, leaving him gasping for air. He was able to make it back to his bench, but he collapsed in the tunnel and would need an emergency tracheotomy.
McCleary, just 27 years old, would never play hockey again.
6. Trent McCleary's Fractured Larynx
When Rich Peverley went down on Monday, it immediately brought back memories of the horrifying incident in Detroit involving Jiri Fischer. On November 21, 2005, Fischer had just finished a shift when he went into cardiac arrest and collapsed on the bench. With no time to move him, team trainers and doctors had to resuscitate him with CPR and a defibrillator right there in front of 18,000 shocked fans.
Fortunately Fischer survived the incident. However, the 25-year-old had to retire from hockey as a result of his heart problems.
5. Jiri Fischer's Cardiac Arrest
Nobody no hockey fan who was around back at the turn of the millennium will ever forget this one. On February 21, 2000, during a game between the Bruins and Canucks, Boston's Marty McSorley cracked Donald Brashear on the temple with a two-handed swing of his stick in retaliation for an earlier cheapshot Brashear had delivered to the Bruins netminder.
Unfortunately, this was hardly an eye for an eye. In fact, it was almost a life for an eye. Brashear collapsed and hit his head on the ice. Then he suffered a seizure and went into convulsions as horrified spectators looked on.
McSorley was suspended by the NHL for 23 games, then charged with and convicted of assault with a weapon by British Columbia authorities.
Fortunately, Brashear would return to NHL action later that year.
4. Donald Brashear's Seizure
Ace Bailey, one of the Toronto Maple Leafs' first superstars, had his career abruptly ended on December 13, 1933, after hitting his head on the ice when Boston Bruins Hall of Fame defenseman Eddie Shore hit him from behind. The incident fractured Bailey's skull, ended his career, and very nearly killed him.
3. Ace Bailey's Fractured Skull
When Buffalo Sabres goalie Clint Malarchuk took a skate to the carotid on Marc 22, 1989, against the St. Louis Blues, blood started spurting from his neck like he was playing the victim in a slasher film. Unfortunately for the fans in attendance—many of whom fainted—it was all too real.
For his part, Malarchuk was pretty sure he was a goner. "All I wanted to do was get off the ice," he recalled. "My mother was watching the game on TV, and I didn't want her to see me die."
When they finally did get him off the ice Malarchuk asked a Sabres equipment manager to call his mom and tell her he loved her. Then the guy even asked for a priest!
Fortunately, team trainer Jim Pizzutelli was a former Army medic who'd served in Vietnam. He reached into the guy's neck, pinched off the bleeding, and didn't let go under doctors starting stitching it up. Amazingly, after losing one-third of the blood in his body and receiving 300 stitches, Clint Malarchuk missed less than a week.
2. Malarchuk's Horror [WARNING: GORY FOOTAGE]
Only one player in the history of the NHL has ever died as the direct result of an injury sustained on the ice. And that player is Bill Masterton.
During the Minnesota North Stars' innagural season, on January 15, 1968, the centerman collided with two members of the California Seals, fell, and hit the back of his head on the ice.
He died in a local hospital two days later.