There are a select few things that inject some adrenaline into the heart of this shambling sports complex that we all support, at least in a way that lasts beyond a buzzer beater or other immediate moment.
(Short story before long story: it's odd and amazing that an athlete's body is, generally, the thing that helps him or her excel but ultimately what inevitably forces a professional sports career to end.)
For me, the battling factions within an athlete’s body presents one of the most melodramatic feuds. On one side, you have the corporeal factors that make someone dominant; on the other, you have the very human elements that limit any transcendent figure from endless success. It’s the tonal wrongness of Michael Jordan playing for the Washington Wizards. It’s what prompted Brett Hull to just flat-out give up on the Phoenix Coyotes.
More than the limitations of age, it’s especially fascinating - and sad - when an athlete’s body betrays him or her in a way that threatens death or something not that far from it. That dichotomy was at play when Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley experienced a “cardiac event” during the Stars’ eventually postponed Monday game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
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For many people, Peverley’s “cardiac event” brought back memories of Jiri Fischer’s scary incident in 2005. (By the way, the most recent mention I can find of anything beyond comparisons between Fischer’s episode and Peverley’s event comes from the 2014 Winter Classic’s alumni game.)
Blame the whims of which books a person might read or not, but I instead couldn’t help but think of “Pistol” Pete Maravich instead.
Granted, the two are very different in key ways. Maravich was raised by a basketball coach crazed by the sport in the Pennsylvania area; in many ways, his NBA career coasted on hype. Meanwhile, Peverley is a Canadian-born, undrafted player who mostly got to where he is because of hard work (even if there’s at least some flash to his game).
Anyway, I think of Pistol Pete because the beloved-but-unfulfilled star died thanks to a heart defect playing pickup basketball years after his professional career ended.
Again, there are differences. Maravich’s heart defect was either completely or largely unknown; Peverley’s irregular heartbeat was well-documented before Monday’s dramatic events. Still, the question I can’t help but ask is: would either player sacrifice their player careers for “normal” lives? Peverley clearly seems willing to fight through these problems, as he remarkably wanted to return to a game that was (unbeknownst to him) postponed because of his collapse upon regain his facilities.
Would Peverley risk everything to continue playing in the NHL? At this point, I’m not willing to question the possibility that the answer is “Yes.” This is far from his first moment dealing with these issues, although this is clearly the most public instance.
It makes me wonder if it will ultimately come down to a Stars representative telling him that he can’t play, assuming the team’s testing reaches such a conclusion. And if so, I wonder: should anyone but Peverley make that call?
Many would say that he shouldn’t be allowed to play again. That said, plenty of us wouldn’t play without a visor (if not a full cage) on our helmets at the NHL level, so there’s a certain acknowledgement one must make that high-level hockey playing humans are simply different from the rest of us.
So, my reflex is to say that Peverley should hang them up. Still, I admit, that would require a big step from the Stars forward: he’d have to become one of us.
Note: I know that none of this really had to do with fantasy hockey, but it had to do with hockey, and I feel like it would be disingenuous for me to ignore the story that left many of us stunned and left me looking at the sport in a different way for the first time in a long time.*
Also, to be totally honest, the three other actually-rather-significant fantasy developments from Monday are pretty clear cut situations, at least if you ask me.
THE GREAT VANCOUVER COLLAPSE
Monday was already a night jam-packed with fairly interesting to full-on interestingly stories when the Vancouver Canucks entered the third period with a 3-0 lead against the New York Islanders. One 7-1 period by the Islanders later, and we’re presented with one of those rock bottom moments that even Hollywood might call a little too blunt and ham-fisted to make it into a movie.
Such a premise begs the question: is there a chance that a meat-faced Rocky to punch his way back into this one?
Pure spitballin’ here, but I’ll make the dangerous horror/spoof movie statement and wonder how much worse things can get.
While I have to admit that I wouldn’t blame anyone for dropping Eddie Lack at this point - if any fantasy figure will go down with a sinking ship, it will be the starting goalie - I’m not so sure I’d purge my roster of Canucks players.
The Sedin twins have struggled, but if you’ve been patient this long, what are the chances that you’ll grab comparable value for dropping them at this point? Obvious contributors like Ryan Kesler and sneaky-good guys in other formats like Chris Higgins are worth keeping even if there might be some frowny faces and minus ratings some nights, however.
Now, if you’re in a coin flip situation between a Canuck and a seemingly equal talent … then go ahead and get the other guy. Still, sometimes fantasy victory is all about some combination of timing and patience (see: Ryan Miller owners, particularly those who added him after the trade deadline).
Ultimately, one of the key bits of advice of fantasy and other investments takes hold: don’t overreact. (Conversely, don’t fall asleep at the wheel either.**)
THE OTHER BIG BITS
OK, I’ll give you the short version of the other big fantasy stories of note:
-- Unless you just have an impeccable roster, Ales Hemsky is indeed worth adding. He now has two consecutive three-point nights and while he isn’t a peripheral treat, you won’t find many guys who could be regular point producers alongside talents at Jason Spezza’s level this late in the season. Drop him for some you don’t care about and see what happens. He’s only owned in 16 percent of leagues as of this writing.
-- P. A. Parenteau is almost certainly out for the regular season, which is about the only thing you need to know as a fantasy owner (until playoff pools kick in, of course). Honestly, I’d just drop him (ideally for Hemsky!). Bummer.
-- This is a retread from Monday, but it’s of the could-be-game-changing variety: Kari Lehtonen’s condition does indeed sound shaky, so go ahead and add Tim Thomas (39 percent owned) as the ceiling is enticing. Just prepare for a few peaks and valleys along the way.
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* - Though not that long, as sadly, a rash of enforcer deaths including Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak remind me of “bigger than the game” moments that were even more unpleasant.
** - Those bits basically contradict each other, so the real message is “Don’t be dumb.”