ST. LOUIS — Jay Bouwmeester will be out for the rest of the season for the St. Louis Blues but hasn’t ruled out playing again.
The 36-year-old defenseman had a cardiac episode during a game at the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11. He collapsed before he was revived with a defibrillator with 7:50 remaining in the first period. The game was postponed.
“There’s been a lot going on,” Bouwmeester said Wednesday. “I think that’s something I’m going to definitely have to evaluate, but to say I’ve done that, I wouldn’t say fully yet. There’s decisions I’m going to have to make. That’ll come later.
“Just kind of taking small steps right now. … It’s tough but honestly hockey hasn’t really been at the front of my mind the last couple of weeks. … 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.”
Bouwmeester had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) procedure Feb. 14 to restore his heart’s normal rhythm. The Blues placed him on long-term injured reserve Feb. 18, and he visited his teammates that day prior to their 3-0 home win against the New Jersey Devils.
“We both understand that he won’t participate this year in the regular season or in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs for us,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said. “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. 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.”
Bouwmeester said he is feeling better and more normal since the episode.
“I’m at the point right now where I feel pretty good,” he said. “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.”
Bouwmeester had nine points (one goal, eight assists) in 56 games this season. He had seven assists in 26 playoff games last season to help the Blues win the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 51-season history.
“It’s obviously great to have him back home and back around our team,” Armstrong said. “He’s been at the arena the last few days, he’s been at a couple games. It’s a great presence on our locker room, and it’s just great to see him here again.”
Bouwmeester was traded to St. Louis by the Calgary Flames on April 1, 2013, and has 124 points (17 goals, 107 assists) in 490 regular-season games with the Blues.
“I think just him being around with his resume and the respect that he has in this locker room,” Blues center Brayden Schenn said. “When he’s around, guys are listening. If he’s talking, guys are listening. Everyone knows if he’s here or not. I think just having [Bouwmeester] here, it means a lot to us just to have him around.”
Selected by the Florida Panthers in the first round (No. 3) of the 2002 NHL Draft, Bouwmeester has 424 points (88 goals, 336 assists) in 1,240 regular-season games with the Blues, Flames and Panthers, and 13 assists in 75 playoff games.
“The outreach and the support that people have shown has been pretty overwhelming,” Bouwmeester said. “There were a lot of things that were the absolute best-case scenario. … Places where this could have happened, the outcome would have been very different. From doctors in the hospital to pretty much everyone I’ve talked to, that’s the consensus. It happened in the absolute best place it could happen. … No. 1, they saved my life, and No. 2, the fact that they could get on it so fast was very helpful.”
The Blues and Ducks will play their postponed game in Anaheim on March 11 (10 p.m. ET). It will follow the same 60-minute format of all regular-season games (including overtime/shootout as necessary) and begin with the score tied 1-1, as it was when the game was postponed.
St. Louis’ home game against the Florida Panthers scheduled for March 10 was rescheduled to March 9 (8 p.m. ET).
NHL.com independent correspondent Louie Korac contributed to this report