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Blue Jackets at Stars, the game that hasn’t been played: My experience from last night.

I had just finished changing a diaper when I noticed something was wrong. My daughter has amazing timing for an 11 week old. She let me know she needed to be changed right before Nathan Horton put one in the net to give the Jackets an early 1-0 lead. I wasn’t able to catch a replay but was happy nonetheless. I took my time changing her, as I was waiting for the Wife to show up with a bottle so she could feed her. When I handed my little girl to the Wife I turned to look at the television and was immediately confused. I heard Jeff Rimer and Bill Davidge on Fox Sports Ohio trying to breakdown a confusing situation between the benches and were trying to find out where Jody Shelley was. My first thought was there was a fight between the teams but as I surveyed the scene it didn’t seem to fit. There seemed to be no anger, just a sense of impatience and confusion. When I noticed the action was close to the tunnel I thought maybe a fan had fallen over a railing. It seemed plausible from the intense reaction from both benches and where the staff was attending to someone. Rimer and Davidge were doing an admirable job handling the events, but Jody Shelley’s open microphone laying somewhere in the scrum was ominous and a little scary. Jeff Rimer correctly called for the mic to be turned off, and around that time you could see Jody Shelley moving around lending his help. The doors to the tunnel were then closed and it seemed like everyone in the Arena was left to fend for themselves.
Somewhere around that timeframe a rumor circulated that a referee may have gone over the boards, or maybe it was a player or coach who had fallen ill. I didn’t know the Rich Peverley story, or that he had just missed the game against Columbus last week for a recurring heart issue, so I didn’t even think a player collapsing was a possibility. We all revel in the stories of how tough hockey players are and how weak other athletes are, so I never gave it a thought.

All of this happened in seconds, not minutes. I grabbed my phone off the charger to check out twitter for updates. Last night was the best of what Twitter can do for us as fans. Reaction was coming in fast and furious and there was nothing snarky or mean. Immediately hashtags for Peverley were appearing and everyone was trying to relay any information they had heard. Not all of it was accurate, but the composite started to paint a picture with the who, what, when, and how. Tweets started to trickle out that he had been resuscitated, defibrillated, and was conscious. I can’t remember who said it first, but someone reported he was awake and asked to go back in the game. It seemed like another tall tale of hockey players, but stories today seem to back it up. It sounded amazing, but I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high in such a tenuous situation.

The scene on television was still surreal. The players mulled around the ice for a while, most leaning on the boards near the benches. The fans in the stands were all silent and the arena announcer occasionally threw out statements on how “Toronto had taken over the game” and how “decisions would be made shortly.” When the players filed off the ice in one of the corners, I got the sense this game wasn’t going to resume. I’m not going to lie, at first thought I wanted the game to continue. This was a big game for the Jackets and we needed 2 points. It didn’t take long for that thought to fade and to realize the best course of action was going to be taken, and that it was probably going to be the end of the night for the CBJ. An interview with Blue Jackets President of Hockey Operations John Davidson was somber and confirmed that the team was flying home. Then it was just over. I tried to turn to ESPN or Fox Sport 1 for some continuing coverage, but it was hard to come by. Eventually I just figured I better get on with my night and get the family ready for bed. It felt kind of empty, but you knew there was nothing else you could do at home.

I think that all people involved did a fantastic job last night. The Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars, the medical staffs for both teams, and all the players involved reacted quickly and worked together for one purpose. They kept a terrible event from turning into a massive tragedy. The fans in the Arena deserve a lot of credit too for their class and composure. The TV team of Rimer & Davidge, as well as Jody Shelley and Dave Maetzold on the ground, kept the television audience informed and made them a part of it while acting with class and grace. Everyone on Twitter in the CBJ Social Family also did a great job, trying to relay information while keeping everything respectful and having compassion for the other team and players.

I want to send out my thoughts and well wishes to Rich Peverley, his family, the Dallas Stars and all their fans. I also want to thank everyone involved from the Blue Jackets side of this. I think looking back we can all feel a sense of pride for how everything was handled, and the class shown towards a rival. I can’t wait for the next time we host the Dallas Stars in our building to show them we stand shoulder to shoulder with them. I also can’t wait until tonight when the Jackets host the Red Wings, because the game must go on, and I think we all need that right now.

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