ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester remained hospitalized and was undergoing tests Wednesday one day after suffering a cardiac episode and collapsing on the bench during a game in Anaheim.
General manager Doug Armstrong said the 36-year old Bouwmeester was unresponsive after collapsing on the bench Tuesday night. 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 during a news conference in Las Vegas.
Teammates Vince Dunn and Alex Pietrangelo immediately called for help after Bouwmeester slumped over with 7:50 left in the first period. Emergency medical personnel rushed to the Blues bench. After a couple of minutes, Bouwmeester was taken out on a stretcher through a tunnel under the stands as players stood in shocked silence on the ice. The game was postponed.
Pieternagleo 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.
“It was important for us to see him. It made everyone feel a lot better that he was in good spirits,” Pietrangelo said.
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 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.
Defibrillators 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 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 people.”
Bouwmeester is in his 17th NHL season and his fitness and conditioning has always been a source of pride. He helped the Blues win the Stanley Cup last season and won an Olympic gold medal with Canada in 2014.
Bouwmeester 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.
“His training and the way he takes care of himself, it crystallizes how things can quickly change. It is a testament to the NHL and teams to have everyone positioned when something like this takes place,” Armstrong said.
Bouwmeester’s father was at the game as part of the team’s annual dads trip and accompanied his son to the hospital.
The Blues and Ducks are talking with the league about making up the game Armstrong said a full 60 minutes will be played and it will resume with the game tied at 1.
AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno contributed.
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