He may be done for the season, but St. Louis Blues’ defenceman Jay Bouwmeester says he isn’t done playing the game of hockey following a cardiac episode on the Blues’ bench during the first period of a game on Feb. 11 at the Honda Center against the Anaheim Ducks.
While he’s adamant that his playing days aren’t for sure done, he will use the remainder of this season and the offseason to continue his recovery from the episode – which came unexpectedly for the 36-year-old defenceman.
He was attended to on the bench by medical staff and had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator procedure a few days later to restore his heart to its normal rhythm.
“It’s a scary thing but everything has been going good lately,” said Bouwmeester in a press conference on Wednesday. However, there are some restrictions, according to Bouwmeester.
What’s Next for Bouwmeester
During the press conference, both Bouwmeester and Blues’ general manager Doug Armstrong noted that there is no rush, nor timetable, for the team or the player to make a decision on his future in hockey.
With that said, Bouwmeester noted that the game of hockey hasn’t been at the forefront of his mind since the Feb. 11 incident.
“Obviously there’s decision I have to make but that will come later,” he said according to Sportsnet’s Ryan McKenna. “Quite honestly, hockey hasn’t been on the front of my mind the last few weeks.”
Bouwmeester did have family present when the cardiac episode did take place as it was part of the Blues’ father’s trip. And while doctors in both Anaheim and St. Louis continue to look for reasons behind what happened, Bouwmeester admits he will take this time to re-evaluate hockey’s place in his life.
For now, Bouwmeester is back around the team even attending a few of their games. He’s expected to continue this while the Blues continue their push to the postseason and a repeat following their first Stanley Cup last season.
Whether he’s done or not, Bouwmeester might go down as one of the more underrated defenceman to play the game. Not known for his offence, he has been in the NHL for 18 seasons which includes a Stanley Cup win with the Blues last season – a triumphant addition to an already impressive defensive career.
This season, he had a goal and nine point sin 56 games for the Blues. Over his career, he’s tallied a total of 88 goals and 424 points in 1,240 games. He’s 29th all-time on the NHL’s list of games played by a defenceman and sits behind only Zdeno Chara among active players in the same category.
Having made his debut in 2002-03 with the Florida Panthers who drafted him third overall in 2002, Bouwmeester has played for just three teams over his career, including the Panthers, Flames and Blues. That included a span of seven seasons where he didn’t miss a single game.
On top of all that, Bouwmeester had a prolific international career with two World Championship gold medals, a World Cup gold medal, an Olympic gold medal, a World Championship silver medal and three medals at the World Juniors (two silver medals and a bronze medal). He is one of 29 members of the Triple Gold Club.
Whether he is able to make a comeback at some point down the road or not, Bouwmeester has had an incredibly successful hockey career, both internationally and at the NHL level. If this is, in fact, the end, he’ll have a good argument as a potential Hall of Fame player.
Andrew is in his 8th year reporting for The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He began his broadcasting with CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada team as well as being part of their coverage of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He’s the former play-by-play voice of the London Jr. Knights for Rogers TV and currently hosts the Sticks in the 6ix podcast. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewGForbes.