Jay Bouwmeester skates in a recent game. (Jonathan Kozub/NHL via Getty Images)
There are times when it feels as though time stops for just a moment. The moment appears to take an excessive amount of time after the event, which may encompass the following day. Tuesday, February 11th, was one of the days where I will look back on and reflect on how the event itself impacted myself and the entire NHL community as a family.
I belong to a Tuesday Night Men’s Bowling League in St. Charles, Missouri. For the most part, the Men’s League was wrapping up. The flat screens always have the most prominent sport up for viewing on the lanes. A late start in Anaheim only revealed that many of the patrons would be able to catch the first period at the bowling alley and finish viewing at home with a 9:00 pm west coast start. I approached the lane to begin the 9th frame of my 3rd game, and glanced to my right at the flat screen to see play had been stopped, and players gathered around the bench. I gave it little thought and completed my frame. Assuming either an injury or perhaps a fan had fallen into the concourse as the volume was muted in the bowling alley.
Fast forward to the end of the evening, and there was a hush over the bowling alley. Knowing that a Blues player suffered some form of injury, which we ultimately know was our #19 Jay Bouwmeester. Like any Blues fan or just a hockey fan, in general, I attempted to consume as much information as I could take in until I went to bed. I watched as much press as I could and must have refreshed Twitter more times than I could count. In our “information consuming,” society everyone appears to try and gather as much as possible and get anything out to the public as quickly as possible. This is the gold standard in our society with regard to anything, including sports. It was only a few weeks ago when the NBA community lost one of the all-time elite forwards in Kobe Bryant.
It is essential to highlight the entire NHL community for how they responded to the incident on February 11th. Some people may view Jay Bouwmeester as a Blues Defenseman, which is entirely accurate. However, his play has had plenty of impact in the six years he spent with the Florida Panthers, the four years he spent with the Calgary Flames, and currently his 8th year with our St. Louis Blues. Before his “professional” years, he was a brother on the ice for two years with the San Antonio Rampage. Jay Bouwmeester also improved his game with four years in the WHL with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
The entire NHL community put out a spotlight for one of their own when Bouwmeester went down the other night. NHL teams across the nation stopped what they were doing to acknowledge what had occurred. Sending thoughts out to his family and teammates was incredible. Evidence of other team’s sentiments could be seen across many social media platforms. The game of hockey is so competitive, and on the ice, the competition can be brutal at times. Fortunately, the NHL players and fans in this community can quickly put aside all competition, especially when it comes to a peer’s life, which was saved.
The level of class shared among players, fans, and the organization cannot be replaced. Their outpouring of love for Jay Bouwmeester continues to shine in his recovery. There is not a doubt in my mind that Jay’s teammates want nothing more than for him to come out of this and continue to live a healthy life. Whether you are a Bouwmeester fan or not, his life was in danger. He was essentially in the best place he could have been at the time to receive the medical care needed to keep him alive.
Pictures released from the Associated Press featuring Anaheim Duck’s players comforting St. Louis Blues players after the game was postponed showed how important each individual placed aside their own needs to comfort another human. Teams spend so much time with one another on and off the road. They are bound with a bond that will never be broken. The level of leadership between Doug Armstrong, Craig Berube, and the Anaheim Ducks coaches and medical staff should receive praise for their elite attentiveness in a real moment of life or death.
I consider myself a fan of the NHL community even outside of just the St. Louis Blues. For the most part, I stay abreast of other on-goings within the league. Merely to stay on top of what is happening within the league. Regarding the incident involving Jay Bouwmeester, there is no question that anyone who is a fan was NOT thinking about him, his family, and his teammates today. I searched “Jay Bouwmeester” during a work meeting today, and Google pulled up 16,700,000 references in 0.60 seconds. The numbers alone should impact anyone’s heart, who is a fan of this game for how much they care about our players.
I wish nothing less than a speedy recovery for Jay, his family, to be at ease and his teammates to feel comforted that there is a fan base which is behind them and supporting him in his recovery. Everyone in the NHL pressed “pause” on their life Tuesday evening. Godspeed in your recovery Jay. Your presence on the ice will be missed for whatever length of time you are away, but your life here with us is more important than you know.
Thank you for reading. Take care of yourselves and each other.