St Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was recovering well and in good spirits Wednesday at a Southern California hospital after a “cardiac episode” that halted an NHL game.
The 36-year-old Canadian, who helped the Blues capture last year’s Stanley Cup title and seize the Western Conference lead so far this season, is being tested to determine exactly why he collapsed Tuesday night on the St Louis bench.
“Jay Bouwmeester is doing very well,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said.
“Jay is currently undergoing a battery of tests to determine the how and why of what happened last night and things are looking very positive.”
Bouwmeester became only the 29th player in hockey history to claim an NHL title, Olympic gold and a world championship title in his career when the Blues won the Cup last year.
He helped Canada to world championship gold in 2003 and 2004 and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic crown.
The game between the Blues and Anaheim Ducks, halted at 1-1 after only 7:50 was played, will be replayed over 60 minutes at an undetermined time.
“At 12:10 of the first period, Jay suffered a cardiac episode on our players’ bench. Jay became unresponsive and the medical personnel used a defibrilator to revive him,” Armstrong said.
After regaining consciousness immediately, Bouwmeester was taken to the nearby University of California Irvine Medical Center.
Armstrong thanked the Ducks organization and the Honda Center arena personnel “for their life-saving efforts.”
The Blues will play Thursday in Las Vegas as scheduled, Armstrong said from the team’s hotel in Las Vegas, noting it’s “going to be a very emotional day tomorrow”.
Blues captain and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said he visited Bouwmeester and his other teammates were able to see him thanks to a video call.
“It was important for me to see him and for everybody to see him,” Pietrangelo said. “It made everybody know he was in good hands and in good spirits . . . Jay Bou is being Jay Bou.
“It’s not easy to see anybody go through it much less a close friend you see every day.”
Pietrangelo said preparing to play Vegas “has been difficult, but we’ve talked to Jay, he’s in good spirits and that makes us feel a lot better.”
He described the scene on the bench when Bouwmeester collapsed as “hard to explain – it happened so fast”, but “it felt like it was an eternity to us. It felt like it was forever”.
The Ducks were concerned about Bouwmeester as well, checking with the Blues after the game about his health.
“Hockey gets pushed aside really quickly when you face something like this,” Pietrangelo said.
The Blues have 32 wins, 15 losses and nine over-time losses for 73 points, one ahead of Colorado atop the Central division.