Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Bouwmeester doing better after cardiac episode

Blues defenseman collapsed on bench Tuesday in Anaheim, needed 
defibrillator to resuscitate him on bench; game with Ducks was postponed

Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is doing well a day after collapsing and suffering a cardial episode on the Blues' bench during the first period of Tuesday's game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center, according to general manager Doug Armstrong.

Jay Bouwmeester
With 7 minutes 50 seconds remaining in the first period of a 1-1 game, video showed Bouwmeester on the Blues bench and collapsing in front of frantic players, including fellow defensemen Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn, who immediately were calling for medical personnel to arrive on the scene.

Armstrong addressed Bouwmeester's situation after the team arrived in Las Vegas for their game against the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday and said Bouwmeester is doing well.

"Jay Bouwmeester is doing very well at the UC Irvine Medical Center in Anaheim," Armstrong said. "Jay is currently undergoing a battery of tests to determine the how and why of what happened last night, but things are looking very positive.

"We would like to thank Ray Barile and his staff plus the Ducks medical staff, including both the trainers and physicians for the quick response. There is never a good time for something like this to take place, but there could not have been a better location than the Honda Center. Thanks again to everyone involved at the Honda Center and the Ducks organization for their life-saving efforts."

Bouwmeester, 36, one of the fittest athletes on the Blues' roster, needed life-saving efforts and instruments to save his life.

"At 12:10 of the first period, Jay suffered a cardiac episode on our players' bench," Armstrong said. "Jay became unresponsive and the medical personnel used a defibrillator to revive him. Jay regained consciousness immediately and was transported immediately to the UC Irvine Medical Center."

The game was immediately postponed with agreement of the league, the Blues and Ducks. No immediate makeup date has been announced yet, but Armstrong said they're working on that and some dates already in place may need to be reconfigured to make a Blues-Ducks makeup date work. 

The game will be played in its entirety and start as a 1-1 score, with all statistics from the first 7:50 played Tuesday counting moving forward.

The Blues were to fly out after Tuesday's game but remained behind until they were reassured their fallen teammate was doing well. They FaceTimed with Bouwmeester from his hospital bed.

Bouwmeester's father, Dan Bouwmeester, who is on the trip as part of the Blues' annual Dad's Trip, was with his son at the hospital.

"Last night after the game, I went over there (to the hospital)," Pietrangelo said. "Me and my dad [Joe Pietrangelo] went over there to see Dan and Jay with Ray. I think it was important, one, for me, just to see him and everybody else to see him. We FaceTimed. 'Bouw' had his opportunity to kind of see everybody, sent him their wishes and I think, I'm not going to speak for everybody, but I'm sure it made everybody feel a lot better knowing he was in good hands. He was in good spirits last night with us and typical Jay. I think it certainly made all of us feel a lot better today knowing we had the opportunity to talk to him.

"A typical Jay is a very good Jay."

Armstrong said Bouwmeester's wife, Devon, was not watching the game at the time and he briefed her on the situation to make her feel as comfortable as possible that Bouwmeester was receiving the best of medical care.

"I reached out to Devon immediately," said Armstrong, who had just landed in St. Louis after a scouting trip to Prague, Czech Republic. "Fortunately, she wasn't watching the game so I was able to explain to her what was happening. Made her as comfortable as possible that he was getting the best medical care. Our father's trip is going on, as some of you may know, so having Jay's father there was difficult for Dan, but very good, I think, for Devon to be able to have someone to talk to. And then you just sort of go through the process. You talk to the appropriate people. I was able to contact [Blues coach Craig Berube] and talk to him. His leadership was outstanding from the get-go making sure everything was organized and the right things were being done. When you get to 12:31 at night, it sort of sinks in on what happened and you become more of a father or friend at that point."

For the players, who had to react quickly as swiftly much like the medical personnel to get help, the experience was surreal. It sent shockwaves throughout the league, which had similar incidents with Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Fischer in 2005 and Dallas Stars forward Rich Peverley in 2014.

"It's hard to explain," Pietrangelo said. "It happened so fast. It felt like an eternity for us, but we just really reacted as fast as we could. Everybody seemed like they wanted to help and do something, but once we handed it over to Ray and the doctors and the EMT, they were impressive to see, them going into action and what they were doing. It's not the easiest to see anybody go through it, but let alone your close friend and teammate that you spend every day with. 

"We're a tight group in our locker room. If you've been around us, you know how close we are. We're lucky to have each other any time you're going through something like this." 

The Blues received as much support from Ducks players, staff and personnel as well.

"They wanted to see us after the game too," Pietrangelo said. "Hockey gets pushed aside really quickly when you're talking about something like this. You're playing against each other and you're battling these guys, but we all have enough respect for each other. A lot of those guys have played with 'Bouw' and have been around 'Bouw.' A lot of them are friends. I know [Ryan] Getzlaf obviously. I've played with him, he knows 'Bouw' a lot just from playing (together internationally for Canada) over the years, international tournaments. He reached out right away. The hockey community, like Doug said, if anything like this happens, a lot of people start reaching out. It's just how the hockey community is. It's a really tight group."   

The Blues' scheduled game against the Golden Knights will go on, Armstrong said.

"It's obviously going to be difficult, but we talked to Jay and he's in good spirits and when you see how he's doing, it certainly makes us feel a lot better," Pietrangelo said. "We stayed last night. We didn't want to leave without knowing what he was doing. One, knowing that he has his dad there, and two, Devon's at home and our wives are all reaching out. I know [Alex Steen's] wife went by last night. That's just how our group is. We take care of each other and when JayBo is being JayBo, I think it makes everybody feel a lot better."

Armstrong said he reached out to Stars GM Jim Nill, who went through the situation with Peverley and he spoke with Vegas president of hockey operations George McPhee, who had support counselors on hand when the Blues got in just in case anyone needed support.

"The NHL community comes together very quickly with something like this," Armstrong said. "... We are part of a very special fraternity."

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