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Blues’ Bouwmeester remains hospitalized after bench collapse

Jay Bouwmeester of the St. Louis Blues battles for the puck against Nicolas Deslauriers of the Anaheim Ducks during the game at Honda Center on Feb. 11, 2020, in Anaheim, California. (Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Jay Bouwmeester remains in Southern California, but the veteran St. Louis Blues defenseman was alert and talking with teammates one day after collapsing on the bench during a game.

“He was in good spirits with us, typical Jay, so I think it
certainly made us all feel a lot better knowing that we had the
opportunity to talk to him. Typical Jay is a very good Jay,” defenseman
Alex Pietrangelo said.

The 36-year old Bouwmeester suffered a
cardiac episode during the first period of Tuesday night’s game against
the Anaheim Ducks. General manager Doug Armstrong said during a news
conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday that Bouwmeester was unresponsive
after collapsing on the bench. A defibrillator was used and he regained
consciousness immediately before being taken to an Anaheim hospital.

“He is doing very well and is currently undergoing a battery of tests. Things are looking very positive,” Armstrong said.

— who was one of the first to call for help after Bouwmeester slumped
over with 7:50 left in the first period — said he visited Bouwmeester in
the hospital Tuesday night and the rest of team got to see him via
FaceTime. The team stayed overnight in Southern California before taking
a chartered flight to Las Vegas, where they will play the Golden
Knights on Thursday.

Bouwmeester’s father was at the game as part of the team’s annual dads trip and accompanied his son to the hospital.

team had a meeting at the hotel in Las Vegas before the media was
allowed in. Several players remained for the news conference and
appeared shaken and tired after a long night and morning.

hard to even explain, it happened so fast, it felt like it was an
eternity for us,” Pietrangelo said. “It’s not easy to see anybody go
through it, let alone your close friend and teammate that you spend
every day with. Certainly, we’re lucky to have each other anytime you’re
going through something like this.”

While Bouwmeester remains
hospitalized, the Blues are trying to refocus on hockey. The defending
Stanley Cup champions lead the Western Conference with 73 points but the
gap between the top three teams in the Central Division was only four
points going into Wednesday’s games.

Armstrong and players lauded the Ducks and Blues medical staffs for their quick work.

quickly they got on there to revive Jay to get him back is a testament
to the work that is done and a testament to the NHLPA and the NHL for
making sure that teams do all the proper work behind the scenes and have
the people in the right spots, that are there to help the guys if
anything happens,” Armstrong said.

The NHL has had standards in
place to deal with potential life-threatening cardiac problems for
several seasons. They include having a team physician within 50 feet of
the bench. An orthopedic surgeon and two other doctors are also nearby.

must also be in close range. The home team has one on its bench and the
away team must have theirs no further away than their locker room. Each
medical team regularly rehearses the evacuation of a severely injured
player before the season and all players are screened for serious
cardiac conditions.

The last player to collapse on an NHL bench
before Bouwmeester was Dallas forward Rich Peverley in 2014. Peverley
had an irregular heartbeat, and the quick response of emergency
officials made sure he was OK. Detroit’s Jiri Fischer had a similar
episode in 2005.

“The Peverley and Fischer incidents and now
Bouwmeester reminded us all how important it is to have team doctors
close to players’ benches and defibrillators easily accessible in short
notice,” said Edmonton Oilers general manger Ken Holland, who was with
Detroit in 2005 when Fischer collapsed on the bench. “It has probably
saved all their lives. Incredible job by league and team medical

Bouwmeester — who is in his 17th NHL season — was skating
in his 57th game this season and the 1,241st of his NHL career. He had
skated 1:20 in his last shift before collapsing and logged 5:34 of ice
time as the game got going.

The Blues and Ducks are talking with the league about making up the game, which was postponed. Armstrong said a full 60 minutes will be played and it will resume with the game tied at 1.

AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno and W.G. Ramirez in Las Vegas contributed.