Thank you, Jay Bouwmeester
It’s been more than a year since Jay “Bouw” Bouwmeester suffered a horrific sudden cardiac episode that shook the entire league. Fans everywhere prayed for his safety first and foremost, but at that moment, you just knew the end of the line for “Bouw” was coming.
We thought it would come at the end of the season, not with 7:50 remaining in the first period in a sleeper of a weeknight game between the St. Louis Blues and the Anaheim Ducks. (Editors Note: March 12 2020 was the make-up game and the last game the Blues played before the pause.
With that said, I feel like I owe Jay Bouwmeester an apology!!!
Why? Because I was one of the lemmings – the haters who joined the masses and chose to hate on Bouw. Why do you ask? I am not really sure, to be honest.
Go with the flow, I suppose?
But truth be told, Jay Bouwmeester … I MISS YOU SO MUCH!!!
Congratulations to Jay Bouwmeester on an accomplished NHL career – 17 NHL seasons, 1,240 GP and hoisting the #StanleyCup.
Wishing Jay all the best in his retirement! pic.twitter.com/brI1NUkJZR
— NHLPA (@NHLPA) January 12, 2021
Jay Bouwmeester’s treatment by some sections of Blues Nation – myself included – is one of the most outrageous examples of fans tossing shade needlessly. How I even got to be a Bouwmeester hater in the first place is pretty embarrassing. It probably started in some nameless bar somewhere, many years ago, when some sauced up patrons were debating the Blues’ current situation at the time. The consensus of that group was that Jay Bouwmeester was past his prime. He was a big cap hit. He was old, slow, and didn’t bring any real value to the team. Hes’ gotta go.
Again this was from a fan’s perspective.
So, I jumped aboard that train and needless booed the guy. I held him accountable for things that really weren’t his issue. Whenever Jay Bouwmeester’s name came from my mouth, scorched earth was sure to follow. If a goal was scored while Bouwmeester was on the ice, it always was his fault. Every damned time.
What did Jay Bouwmeester ever do wrong?
Blues tv color analyst Daren Pang was on the BlueNote Fan Report and he felt. ” I knew his hip was hurting him. Pang said. ” you could tell from my spot he was not healthy yet.”
To appreciate what the player meant to not only the St. Louis Blues but to the entire league, you have to look at the guy’s credentials. In the league, you can score 20 one year but if you only get 12 the next, the fans label you a disappointment. It’s part of the deal when you earn a living on the ice. For every fan who loves you, there may be thousands more who do not.
This season when the Blues defense has been decimated by injuries to key players, the team could use Bouw’s strong leadership now. Ok, we all get it – Peitranglo left, I am so done with that story. Free agency happens. But losing 2019 Stanley Cup hero Carl Gunnarsson to injury for the season while relying on new faces like Torey Krug and (relatively new face) Justin Faulk has made the waters in the defensive zone choppy, to say the least.
It seems like Faulk has picked up the horse collar fans unceremoniously gave Bouw.
But that’s a whole different conversation.
Blues Bouwmeester gets Standing O on return
Jay Bouwmeester gets a Standing ovation after returning to the Enterprise Center.
NHL.comBefore he was forced to retire, Bouwmeester had nine points (a goal with eight assists) while averaging 21:34 of ice time in 56 games in 2019. At 37-years old, he put together an illustrious 18-year career. He scored 424 points on 88 goals and 336 assists while playing in 1,240 NHL games.
The Florida Panthers selected Bouwmeester with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft. Leaving Florida, he spent a considerable portion of his career as one of the stalwart D-men for the Calgary Flames. He made the NHL’s All-Rookie team in 2003, and he played in two All-Star games in 2007 and 2009.
On the international stage, he is part of hockey’s elite Triple Gold Club. There are 29 players who have achieved the unique distinction of winning a Stanley Cup (2019), an Olympic Gold medal (2014 Sochi Olympics as a member of Team Canada, and an IIHF World Championship which he won in 2003.
Jay Bouwmeester Offers His Thoughts on Winning His First Stanley Cup.
He joined the St. Louis Blues on April 1, 2013, and he’s been no joke for the Blue Note. Calgary sent Bouwmeester here for Mark Cundari, the legendary Reto Berra (yeah, him …) and a first-rounder.
What the Blues were getting was a gamer, a gritty defenseman who did the little things to help his teams find success. Where Bouwmeester found tremendous success was in the playoffs. It’s almost a crime that a player of his stature had to wait 17 years to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Storylines be damned, right?
He showed up in key games and he was a steady influence on the rest of the D. We miss that so much this year.
He had 13 assists in 75 career Stanley Cup Playoff games. During the Blues 2019 Cup run, he logged a team-high 23:30 of time on the ice, adding seven assists, and was plus-9. As the clock ticked down during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals that year, all eyes were on Bouwmeester.
He provided a yeoman’s effort and – after a cruel 17 years of chasing it – could finally lift Lord Stanley’s chalice skyward.
“When you put it in perspective, I was super lucky,” Bouwmeester told NHL.com this past January. “The career I had, to get some of the opportunities I had to play on some of those international teams, and to be part of a really special group in St. Louis and win the Stanley Cup, all of those things. I have no regrets. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.” (SOURCE: https://www.nhl.com/news/blues-jay-bouwmeester-retirement/c-320195272)
So, mea culpa here … I was so wrong about that guy.
As a member of the human race, of course, I am grateful he survived the ordeal. I am grateful there were medical personnel and an AED defibrillator available. I am grateful that Jay Bouwmeester got to go home to his wife and family.
Because many heart attack victims never get that chance. I have experienced that personal tragedy in my own family.
How they SAVED Jay Bouwmeester’s LIFE after Cardiac Arrest – Doctor Explains
The NHL’s Defensive Iron Man
But as a player, I am really not sure why I ever questioned the guy. All he did was compete and give his all for the St. Louis Blues. His durability was one of his strong points. He was constantly in the lineup. In fact, before he got to St. Louis, Bouwmeester had hockey’s equivalent of a Cal Ripken game streak by appearing in 757 consecutive games from 2004-2014. This would be the longest consecutive game streak by any NHL defensemen in history.
Even his rookie year, he played all 82 games in 2002-03, becoming the first rookie in Florida Panthers history to suit up for every game. He would remain a consistent force in the lineup for seven straight seasons from 2005-2012. Remarkably broke the NHL mark for most consecutive games played by a defensemen when he laced up his blades for his 496th straight game.
Players come and go all of the time. They retire. They get hurt. They wash out. What’s so important about Bouwmeester? He was “just a guy,” right?
Because he was not an acclaimed chirper along the lines of a David Perron or a Pat Maroon, he did not draw attention to his mouth. He only drew attention to his game.
Welp, I realize it is a little late, and probably a little pretentious of me, to offer an apology. But I must. It is the right thing to do and if nothing else, it will clear my conscience.
I should be ashamed. And I am.
So, here it goes … Jay Bouwmeester I am sorry for calling you a lead foot loser, has-been, no-good lazy #$%^ who gets beaten more than a rug. I was very wrong for calling you weak little @#^%$ and a waste of good money. I am very sorry for giving a low guttural moan every time you stepped on the ice.
You deserved better. And, as a fan, I have to be better than that.
Forgive me, Jay Bouwmeester, for I did not know what I was doing.
Thanks for reading.
Now back to full strength …
A St. Louis Blues blogger, NHL podcaster, and writer for the STL Fan Report.