Jay Bouwmeester knew what was going on by the time he came around in an ambulance outside Honda Center.
It was minutes after he had suffered a cardiac episode during the first period of a game on Feb. 11 against the Anaheim Ducks. On Wednesday, the St. Louis Blues defenceman announced he wouldn’t play again this season as he continues to recover.
He said he felt fine as he skated off the ice moments earlier and as he took a drink of water while sitting down, he started to fall down.
“It all just came pretty suddenly,” the 36-year-old said at a press conference in St. Louis in what were his first public comments since collapsing on the team’s bench. “Completely out of the blue.”
Medical personnel attended to him right away and he was later awake and alert. Bouwmeester received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator procedure to restore his heart’s normal rhythm a few days later.
The team placed him on injured reserve two weeks ago and he has taken the past while to get accustomed to his new normal.
“It’s a scary thing but everything has been going good lately,” said Bouwmeester, although he noted there’s some restrictions as to what he can do.
Bouwmeester, playing in his 18th season, helped St. Louis capture its first Stanley Cup in franchise history last season.
He wouldn’t commit to his playing future and said it would be something he’s going to continually evaluate.
“Obviously there’s decisions I have to make but that will come later,” Bouwmeester said.
Blues GM Doug Armstrong said it’s not an immediate decision for either Bouwmeester or the team as they’re in February with lots of time to decide.
Bouwmeester has been back around the team over the last few days and attended a pair of games recently. He’ll continue to do so over the course of the season as St. Louis, currently first place in the Central Division, march towards the post-season.
How or why the episode happened isn’t something Bouwmeester is able to understand and said doctors in both Anaheim and St. Louis continue to look into it. The incident, he said, has put his life into perspective and he’s OK with taking a step back for the moment.
“Quite honestly, hockey hasn’t been on the front of my mind the last few weeks,” Bouwmeester said.
The episode took place during the Blues’ fathers trip, which meant Bouwmeester’s dad was present. He said it helped having his father around as he was able to relay information of what was happening to other family members.
Being in a bubble while in the hospital was a good thing, he said, and he hasn’t looked at the footage of what took place.
Bouwmeester has one goal and eight assists in 56 games this season for St. Louis.