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St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester was responsive Tuesday night while he underwent testing to determine why he experienced what a club official described as “a cardiac episode” and collapsed on the team’s bench during the first period of the Blues’ game against the Ducks at Honda Center.
Doug Armstrong, the Blues’ general manager and president of hockey operations, said both teams’ trainers and the Ducks’ doctors acted quickly to stabilize Bouwmeester, who had toppled over on the bench. The incident occurred with 7 minutes 50 seconds left in the first period.
Jay Bouwmeester collapses on the Blues bench. Game has been delayed pic.twitter.com/wOJkAFANCT
“He was alert and moving all of his extremities as he was transported to UC Irvine Medical Center,” Armstrong said in a statement released at about 9:30 p.m. “Currently, Jay is conscious and alert as he undergoes further testing by Anaheim’s physicians. We will update Jay’s condition on Wednesday morning.”
Players, shocked and unnerved by Bouwmeester’s collapse, returned to their respective locker rooms. The game was postponed soon after, and the NHL said a decision on a makeup date will be made in the near future. The score was 1-1 when play was abandoned.
The Blues’ traveling party in Anaheim included players’ fathers, who were making their annual trip with their sons. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Bouwmeester’s father, Dan, was in the arena and accompanied his son to the hospital.
Bouwmeester, 36, played a key role in the Blues’ first Stanley Cup championship last spring and is known for his superb fitness. He has appeared in 57 games this season and has one goal and nine points, in addition to 20 penalty minutes. He had averaged 21 minutes and 34 seconds’ ice time per game before Tuesday’s game. He had played six shifts on Tuesday for a total of 5:34.
Bouwmeester had just come over to the bench to rest after completing a shift that was a minute and 20 seconds long and did not include anything extraordinary, such as a hit to the head or other significant contact. He sat for a few seconds and appeared to be reaching for a water bottle when he suddenly fell over.
Several of his teammates immediately recognized he was in distress and shouted for medical personnel to attend to him. Players lifted the bench out of the way to give easier access to medical personnel from both teams, who responded within seconds.
They treated Bouwmeester and then put him on a stretcher to get him back to the team’s locker room for further examination. He later was taken to the hospital in Orange by ambulance.
The incident was reminiscent of a situation in 2014 involving Rich Peverley of the Dallas Stars. He collapsed on his team’s bench and had to be revived after he went into cardiac arrest. He had previously been diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat.
Similarly, in 2005, Detroit Red Wings forward Jiri Fischer went into cardiac arrest while on the bench and was revived by an automated external defibrillator. Fischer had additional heart problems and did not receive medical clearance to resume his NHL career.
NHL teams are required to have automated external defibrillators near the benches and to have medical personnel close by at each game.
When the Blues won a seven-game Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins last spring, Bouwmeester was the first player to receive the Cup from team captain Alex Pietrangelo, a tribute to his veteran status and his long wait for that triumphant moment.
He had played 1,184 regular-season games for Florida, Calgary and St. Louis before he earned the right to lift the Cup as a champion.
NHL teams and players, as well as former players, took to social media to express their concern for Bouwmeester and offer prayers and wishes for his fast recovery.