Cause of Fischer's seizure still unknown

Updated: November 23, 2005, 12:30 PM ET
Associated Press

DETROIT -- The Red Wings were back on the ice on Tuesday, but their thoughts were with teammate Jiri Fischer, who collapsed on the bench the night before and was revived with help from a defibrillator.

The team was practicing for its Wednesday home game against Colorado, while Fischer's equipment and jersey hung in his dressing area -- a reminder of the player who remained hospitalized and was undergoing tests.

Jiri Fischer
AP/Paul SancyaJiri Fischer suffered a seizure on the bench Monday, but is doing well, team officials said Tuesday.

"We were all at the rink today, talking about it," Kris Draper said. "For us, it's not going to be easy. The next time you walk in and see Fisch's stall, guys are going to have some pretty uncomfortable memories.

"It's something that we have to do. We just have to step up and play hockey."

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland and team physician Tony Colucci, who performed CPR on Fischer after he collapsed Monday night, said the player was "in good spirits." Colucci visited Fischer at the hospital Tuesday.

"He's actually cracking some jokes," Colucci said during a news conference at Joe Louis Arena. "Everything appears to be well right now."

The 25-year-old Fischer was in good condition after he began having convulsions on the bench late in the first period against the Nashville Predators. Colucci wasn't able to detect a pulse after Fischer collapsed, and an auto defibrillator was used on the player.

After performing CPR, Colucci said he detected a good pulse and Fischer was taken out of the arena by ambulance to Detroit Receiving Hospital. Colucci said Fischer's heart might have stopped, but he didn't know for how long.

Fischer's blood pressure and heart rate were stable by the time he arrived at the hospital.

"There's no way to speculate on what triggered it," Colucci said.

The team announced to the crowd Monday night that Fischer had a seizure, but Red Wings coach Mike Babcock later said Fischer's heart had stopped.

On Tuesday, Colucci said the defibrillator indicated that Fischer's heart may have been experiencing ventricular tachycardia, which is a racing type of heartbeat, or ventricular fibrillation, a heart fluttering.

Both can cause death, and ventricular fibrillation is a common cause of sudden cardiac arrest.

When asked how long Fischer's heart had stopped, Colucci said: "Sometimes when you're feeling for a pulse you can't really say did it stop, or does he have a very weak, thready pulse."

Colucci said he didn't know when Fischer could play again or how long he will remain in the hospital. He many things could have caused Fischer's collapse, but he believed the problem was "cardiac in origin."

"We're going to evaluate him on a daily basis," he said.

Players and Babcock said their thoughts remained with Fischer as they prepared to play the Avalanche on Wednesday.

"You just think about how bad Jiri Fischer would like to be playing hockey," Babcock said. "We have that chance. We better make good on that chance."

Detroit defenseman Jiri Fischer is the fourth pro athlete this year who had to be treated in a life-threatening incident. The results have ranged from an amazing comeback by the Patriots Tedy Bruschi, to the death of the NBA's Jason Collier and the NFL's Thomas Herrion. Tonight on Outside The Lines, Bob Ley examines the advice and care pro athletes are receiving (ESPN, 1:10 a.m. ET).
Kirk Maltby said Fischer knows his teammates are thinking about him as they try to stay focused.

"Unfortunately, the world keeps going and things keep going on," Maltby said. "But obviously everyone's still thinking about Fisch."

The team said Red Wings fans showed an outpouring of support. Instead of flowers, the team asked for donations to the Children's Hospital of Michigan Wish Club and offered the chance to sign large get well cards.

Fischer was diagnosed with a heart abnormality in September 2002, causing him to miss two days of practice. The problem was found on an electrocardiogram as part of a routine battery of tests during the Red Wings' preseason physicals.

Colucci said Tuesday that tests were being conducted to determine whether the convulsions were related to the abnormality. When the 2002 result came back, Fischer was given a stress test that he passed and he said his heart essentially is a little thicker than normal.

Team owner Mike Ilitch, teammates, and coaches visited the Czech Republic native in small groups Monday night in the hospital. Others from the club visited him on Tuesday.

Play was stopped with 7:30 left in the first period Monday after the Red Wings alerted officials to a problem. Medical personnel worked on Fischer at the door to the bench for several minutes before he was wheeled back toward the Red Wings dressing room.

Holland said Red Wings management consulted with the players, the Predators and the NHL and made the decision to postpone the game.

Holland said it hasn't yet been decided when the game will be played.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press