“I don’t know, for me, right or wrong, I’ve been around the game long enough, it’s a wheel that never stops turning,” the 37-year-old defenseman said in remarks published by The Athletic on Monday. “I’ve had a good career, I’ve moved on.
“It’s a great job, it’s your dream as a kid. But the end comes for everybody at some point. I’m happy with the career I had. I consider myself really lucky to have had the experiences I’ve had. But at the end of the day, that day is going to come where you just have to move on. It happens different for everyone. That’s life.”
Bouwmeester experienced a cardiac episode on the bench with 7:50 remaining in the first period of a game at the Anaheim Ducks on Feb. 11. He was revived by medical personnel using a defibrillator, regained consciousness immediately and was taken to UC Irvine Medical Center in Anaheim for treatment.
Three days later, Bouwmeester had an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) procedure to restore his heart’s normal rhythm. The Blues placed him on long-term injured reserve Feb. 18.
Bouwmeester became an unrestricted free agent after scoring nine points (one goal, eight assists) with a plus-6 rating and averaging 21:34 of ice time in 56 games last season. Chosen by the Florida Panthers with the No. 3 pick in the 2002 NHL Draft, he scored 424 points (88 goals, 336 assists) in 1,240 NHL games for the Blues, Panthers and Calgary Flames, and had 13 assists in 75 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He finished with seven assists in playoff games and was plus-9 while averaging 23:30 of ice time to help St. Louis win the Stanley Cup in 2019. He also became the 29th player to enter the Triple Gold Club as a winner of the Cup, an Olympic gold medal (2014 Sochi Olympics with Canada) and the IIHF World Championship (2003).
“When you put it in perspective, I was super lucky,” Bouwmeester said. “The career I had, to get some of the opportunities I had to play on some of those international teams, and to be part of a really special group in St. Louis and win the Stanley Cup, all those things, I have no regrets. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Cam & Strick Podcast in an episode released Dec. 1 that the organization was interested in hiring Bouwmeester as a scout after his playing days.
“I would love to work with him,” Armstrong said. “I would love to get him into some scouting for us in the future.
“He’s one of those guys. He’s got a great hockey mind, and also retirement’s great until you’re home all the time. Now I’m not saying that he’s going to want to travel like a pro scout and do four games in five nights in five cities, but he can go into Calgary, go up to Edmonton, go to Vancouver, he can come in when we’re there. These are the type of character people I have the most respect for.”