Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who suited up for a number of National Hockey League clubs between the 2002-03 and 2019-20 seasons (his last seven with the St. Louis Blues), recently talked with Pierre Lebrun of The Athletic about his present status as it pertains to his playing career, and made it clear that he has moved on from playing hockey in the NHL and is at peace with it. There has not been an official announcement from either the NHL Players Association or from the Blues.
Bouwmeester, who was drafted third overall in 2002 by the Florida Panthers, remarked that, “I don’t know, for me, right or wrong, I’ve been around the game long enough, it’s a wheel that never stops turning. I’ve had a good career, I’ve moved on.”
The veteran of over 1,200 NHL contests expressed his appreciation of the career he had, which included a number of Gold Medal wins represening Canada in Internation play, two All-Star Games, and an All-Rookie Team selection, saying, “It’s a great job, it’s your dream as a kid. But the end comes for everybody at some point. I’m happy with the career I had. I consider myself really lucky to have had the experiences I’ve had. But at the end of the day, that day is going to come where you just have to move on. It happens different for everyone. That’s life.”
On February 11, 2020, in a game against the Anaheim Ducks, Bouwmeester collapsed on the bench with 7:50 remaining in the first period, an event that turned out to be a cardiac episode. The incident came suddenly, with the veteran blueliner becoming unresponsive, revived by medical personnel using a defibrillator, and upon immediately regaining consciousness was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center in Anaheim for treatment. Three days later, Bouwmeester had an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) placed in his chest to restore his heart’s normal rhythm and also had to get used to the medication. The Blues placed him on Long-Term Injured Reserve (LTIR) on February 19.
He spoke to LeBrun about how his current condition, reporting, “I’m feeling OK. I wouldn’t say it’s been totally smooth sailing but generally, I’ve been pretty good. I’ve generally been able to do whatever I want to do and I’ve stayed pretty active, adding, “Oh yeah. I knew I was done essentially when it happened, to be quite honest.’’
At the time, Bouwmeester was not yet ready to announce the news when he held his press conference in St. Louis later that month: “It’s not an injury. As a hockey player you’re wired where something happens, I’ve had hip problems and things like that, and you’re like ‘When will I be good to play again?’ This was like, Number one, you’re glad you’re not dead and Number two, what does this mean for quality of life moving forward? Hockey got pushed to the back pretty quickly.’’
The longtime NHL rearguard has consulted with other retired players about the next steps to take but has not made any final decision. Doug Armstrong, the Blues’ General Manager, has indicated that the team would like to hire him as a scout, saying:
“I would love to work with him. I would love to get him into some scouting for us in the future. He’s one of those guys. He’s got a great hockey mind, and also retirement’s great until you’re home all the time. Now I’m not saying that he’s going to want to travel like a pro scout and do four games in five nights in five cities, but he can go into Calgary, go up to Edmonton, go to Vancouver, he can come in when we’re there. These are the type of character people I have the most respect for.”
After spending parts of six seasons in the Panthers organization, Florida dealt him to the Calgary Flames in June 2009 prior to the former first-round pick becoming an unrestricted free agent. The Flames dealt Bouwmeester to the Blues at the 2012-13 season trade deadline, where he played the remaining days of his playing career, winning the Stanley Cup in 2019. In total, Bouwmeester played 1,240 NHL games, recorded 424 points (88 goals, 336 assists), represented Team Canada in the World Junior Championships three different times and also played on their 2014 Olympic Gold Medal-winning team. He was named to the NHL All-Star Game twice (2007 and 2009), and named to the NHL All-Rookie team in 2002-03.
By Diane Doyle
The Athletic: Blues’ Jay Bouwmeester Retires
NHL: Jay Bouwmeester Retirement
St. Louis Blues’ Jay Bouwmeester Receives Loud Standing Ovation; Waves to Fans from Press Box
Blues’ Jay Bouwmeester: Our Family Has Felt The Support Of The Entire National Hockey League Family And The City Of St. Louis During This Time. We Have All Been Greatly Comforted By Your Genuine Concern
Blues’ Jay Bouwmeester Collapses on Bench During Ducks-Blues Game, Game Postponed
By Diane Doyle