Blues' Jay Bouwmeester won't play rest of season after cardiac episode

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The St. Louis Blues watch as paramedics tend to teammate Jay Bouwmeester after he collapsed on the bench during an NHL regular season game in February. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
The St. Louis Blues watch as paramedics tend to teammate Jay Bouwmeester after he collapsed on the bench during an NHL regular season game in February. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just over two weeks after Jay Bouwmeester’s frightening cardiac episode during an NHL regular season game against the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11, St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong announced on Wednesday that the defenceman won’t play the rest of the 2019-20 regular season or playoffs.

“We talked about longer term things that may or may not happen and both feel that it's February, ‘You don't have to make long-term decisions at this point,’” said Armstrong, via NHL.com. “He's going to take time, getting back with his family and be around the team and he'll address those things as the summer progresses.”

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The team shared the news during a press conference on Wednesday, the first time Bouwmeester spoke publicly since the incident.

“I'm at the point right now where I feel pretty good,” Bouwmeester said at Enterprise Center, via NHL.com. “That's kind of the weird thing about this whole thing is you go from something that happened totally out of the blue and unexpected to being in a hospital for a couple days. There's some restrictions as to what I can do, but I feel pretty normal, so that's a good thing.

“It's a scary thing but everything's going pretty good lately and we'll continue to evaluate things as they go.”

With the score knotted at one in Anaheim, Bouwmeester collapsed on St. Louis’ bench during a stoppage in play. His teammates quickly got the attention of the Blues medical staff and their swift action may have ultimately saved his life.

A defibrillator was employed to revive him.

The medical emergency resulted in the game’s postponement. It will be made up on Mar. 11.

Only a few days after the incident, Bouwmeester had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) procedure on Feb. 14, the Blues announced. The procedure was successfully completed at UC Irvine Medical Center in Anaheim and is meant to restore “the heart’s normal rhythm.”

When it came to discussion about his future in the sport, it was clear there’s some thinking for Bouwmeester to do going forward.

“It's tough, but honestly hockey hasn't really been at the front of my mind the last couple of weeks,” he said, via NHL.com. “It puts things in perspective. I'm a hockey player, I like to play hockey so, yeah sure, I'd like to be out there but when you put everything in perspective, it's OK to take a step back right now.”

Since breaking into the NHL with the Florida Panthers during the 2002-03 season, after being drafted third overall the previous summer, Bouwmeester has been a mainstay in the league. He’s averaged over 24 minutes of ice time throughout his 17-season career.

Although the offensive side of his game has dried up as his role has transformed during his time in St. Louis, he continues to be a reliable defensive presence that can eat plenty of minutes on the back end.

Bouwmeester has a goal and eight assists to his name this season. In a combined 1,315 NHL regular-season and playoff contests, he’s found the back of the net 88 times and collected 437 points.

The owner of the ninth-longest ironman streak in NHL history for most consecutive regular-season games played with 737 between 2004 and 2014, the 2019 Stanley Cup champion was also on the Canadian team that won gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

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