Steady as he goes: Blues’ Bouwmeester appears in 700th consecutive game
ST. LOUIS — Jay Bouwmeester played his 700th consecutive regular-season game Tuesday night. But he’d rather you not make a big deal about it. The Blues’ blueliner certainly won’t.
The fans roared at Scottrade Center when Bouwmeester was recognized for his achievement, the longest current streak in the NHL and a league record for a defenseman, during a break in the action with 15:34 left in the first period.
Bouwmeester, in his typically understated fashion, acknowledged the applause with a slight wave of his gloved left hand. That was it. Ho hum.
"It’s one of those things you kind of knock on wood every time someone (mentions) it and just move on," Bouwmeester said earlier in the day, following the team’s morning skate.
The 30-year-old does remember the last time he missed a game. It was when he broke his foot, way back in 2004, and missed 18 games.
"I think that was before the …." Bouwmeester paused. "Two lockouts ago. It used to just be the lockout, but now we deal with them every couple years. So, yeah, it’s been a while. It’s just a neat thing that’s happened. I don’t put a lot into it."
That’s just how he is.
In another life, maybe the Edmonton native is working a 9-to-5 pushing paper in an office cubicle somewhere in a sleepy Midwestern town. Bouwmeester’s quiet and unassuming nature makes him one of the more unique elite-level athletes you’ll find in professional sports.
"That’s exactly how he is all the time," Blues captain David Backes said. "He goes about his business, he’s quiet, he just does his thing and does it really well. Everyone’s got their niche, and that’s for sure his."
Bouwmeester has been with the Blues for 11 months. The Blues traded two prospects and a first-round draft pick to Calgary to acquire the defenseman last April and then re-signed him to a five-year deal worth $27 million.
He’s happy to be here. He likes the city. He likes the team. He’s hoping the Blues will make a longer run in the playoffs.
But there haven’t been many moments when the Team Canada defenseman showed much emotion one way or the other.
"Maybe something happened to him as a kid where his voice box was hurt a little bit and he can’t project his voice real well," Backes said. "He gets a few moments where he gets animated, and it’s great to see. But for the most part he’s just calm, cool, collected and knows that he’s an elite player and goes out and contributes to our team’s wins."
The captain described Bouwmeester as a blue-collar worker who logs heavy minutes — he played a team-high 26:44 in the Blues’ 3-2 overtime loss Tuesday — blocks shots, takes some hits, wants to be in the lineup every night and contributes to wins.
And Bouwmeester is OK with that.
Well, he’s more than fine with that.
Of course, we’re talking about a rare pro athlete who doesn’t even have a Twitter or Facebook account. It’s easier to find Bigfoot than it is a pro athlete who doesn’t use social media in some form.
"Yeah, I don’t get it, either," Bouwmeester said. "I don’t need to tell everyone every time I go to the grocery store. I don’t care. I’m just not interested, I guess.
"I understand it. I understand how now there’s self-promotion and there’s good things you can do with it. Obviously, you’re in a position where people might listen to you and you can promote things and that can do a lot of good. So I’m not totally against it, but just personally, for me, I’m not that into it, I guess."
You can say he’s old school in that regard. He doesn’t know, he says. He just finds other things to occupy his time.
His first couple of years in the NHL, back after he was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Florida Panthers, he remembers the team even had a rule where there were no cell phones allowed on the team bus.
"So you couldn’t talk on your cell phone on the bus," Bouwmeester said. "So now you go into the changing room back there and the first thing everyone does is check their phone. And I don’t know what the hell they are looking at. I’ve got email and obviously text and all of that, but those are the people that are my friends. And if something is going on, that’s who I’m going to hear it from. I don’t know. I still like looking at the news and seeing what’s going on in the world."
So Bouwmeester likes the news; he’s just not concerned about being the news. He doesn’t even talk much about the experience of winning the gold medal with Team Canada — along with teammate Alex Pietrangelo — last month because he quickly changed his focus to winning games with the Blues.
But he will admit to his streak being a point of pride for him, even if he does consider himself lucky to have gotten to this point.
"I think as you get older it is," Bouwmeester said. "When you’re young you just play and injuries don’t take as long to heal and you kind of take the preparation a little bit for granted, maybe. I’m at the stage now where there are things you do off the ice — that side of things has evolved — and obviously, you have to take better care of yourself as you get older. From that standpoint, yeah.
"But there’s a lot of luck that goes into it, too. When I got traded last year, we both had games that day and they started an hour apart. So they did the trade right in the middle and I didn’t miss a game, technically. Stuff like that. I don’t know. It’s just kind of happened."