Jay Bouwmeester spoke with media and to fans on Wednesday in a scheduled press conference regarding the scary cardiac incident that led to medial emergency protocols taking place during the game and a surgical Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator (ICD) procedure that followed quickly thereafter. It was an emotional press conference but also a positive one as Bouwmeester announced he’d be done playing hockey for this season but isn’t closing the door on his hockey career.
With everything that’s known about the ICD procedure, it’s likely Bouwmeester is done with his NHL career, that said, he did not officially retire today.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong was asked prior to the conference if a retirement announcement was coming. “There’s no retirement announcement from me on Jay today,” Armstrong said. He added, “Again, it’s premature to talk like that. I want Jay to get comfortable, certainly with his family and his new normal,” saying Jay would address his hockey future as the summer progresses.
Bouwmeester noted that hockey wasn’t really on his mind these days. “It’s tough, but hockey hasn’t really been at the front of my mind the last couple of weeks,” he explained. He added that he feels pretty good and he sees this like any other longer-term injury. It will take time to see where he sits down the road. For now, he’s simply reminding himself why he’s not playing and how serious the incident was. “It puts it in perspective.”
Questions about what happened were a big focus of the presser and what caused the cardiac incident. He noted that doctors are still looking into it and running tests. “I consider myself pretty fortunate … The outlook is I can still (enjoy the things I enjoy). That was my biggest concern.”
The 36-year old defenseman will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year and even if he decides he wants to play, it would be hard to imagine any team would really jump at the opportunity to sign him knowing the risks involved. That said, it doesn’t mean, if somehow he’s given a clean bill of health after the post-season ends, teams will completely rule him out. In 17 NHL seasons, the minute-munching Bouwmeester has played over 1,300 games and won the Stanley Cup last year as a member of the Blues. Up until his incident, he was a very effective d-man for the Blues.
Again, though, the sense was, while not official, this is probably the end of the road in terms of Bouwmeester playing hockey. “I think I’ve accomplished a lot of the things I set out when I was young. I’m proud of a lot of the team accomplishments. I’ve tried to be a good teammate … I’ve experienced a lot of good things,” he said.
If so, he’s had a great career. It’s just good to see he’s feeling alright and is focused on his health right now.
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