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Reminder, Hockey Is Just A Game

February 12, 2020, 6:12 AM ET [20 Comments]
Randall Ritchey
St Louis Blues Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Last night, during a TV timeout during the St. Louis Blues game against the Anaheim Ducks, the unthinkable happened. After finishing what looked like a routine shift, Blues defensemen Jay Bouwmeester suffered what is being called a "cardiac episode" on the Blues bench.

You've probably seen the video already, as it was shared all over social media. The sight of Bouwmeester losing consciousness is extremely difficult to watch, as the reactions of his teammates are as equally difficult. The absolute panic in Vince Dunn's face said it all. He knew right away that Bouwmeester needed help and he acted quickly, yelling for the medical staff on hand.

They said it took 30 seconds for the medical staff and EMT's to get to Bouwmeester and that is likely what saved his life. No one has said it outright, but they didn't have to. The facts are right there in front of us. They said that the EMT's needed to use AED (automated external defibrillator) and perform CPR. That right there, says it all. Jay Bouwmeester's heart, more than likely, stopped on the Blues bench last night.

Luckily for Bouwmeester, the medical professionals on hand got him stabilized and rushed him to the hospital. Darren Pang on the Fox Sports Midwest broadcast reported that Bouwmeester was awake before leaving the rink and later, in an official release, Doug Armstrong stated that Bouwmeester was alert and moving his extremities as he was transported to the hospital. This right now is the best news possible to hear after what was an absolutely terrifying event.

This type of incident is a swift reminder that as much as we all love hockey, it is a game. That's it. Hockey is not one's sole purpose in life, at least it shouldn't be. We love watching our favorite players and our favorite teams flying up and down the ice, but at the end of the day, the game ends and we go on with life until the next game starts.

We've seen situations like this before. November 19, 2016, Craig Cunningham collapsed on the ice during the pre-game skate before his American Hockey League team, the Tuscon Roadrunners were set to play. Cunningham's heart stopped. He was hospitalized for over a month, and had part of his left leg amputated.

March 10, 2014, Rich Peverely's suffered a heart attack on the bench, while he played for the Dallas Stars. His heart stopped for two minutes before he was revived with an AED and CPR.

On November 21, 2005, Jiri Fischer of the Detroit Red Wings collapsed on the bench, and he was unconscious for six minutes before being revived with an CPR and an AED.

May 11, 1998, Blues defensemen Chris Pronger blocked a shot, which hit him in the chest, causing Pronger's heart to skip a beat. Pronger fell to the ice unconscious. Luckily for him, he was able to return just four days later.

Everyone of these incidents were horrifying, however the one that few seem to remember is the worst one. It was October 13, 2008. In a Kontinental Hockey League game in Russia, Avangard Omsk forward, Alexei Cherepanov, lost consciousness on the bench. Sadly, the KHL didn't have the same rules in place in regards to having medical staff on hand at games. They were unable to resuscitate Cherepanov. He was pronounced dead shortly after. Omsk later retired his number in memory of him.

These are similar situations that most people think of, and we are all praying for a swift recovery for Bouwmeester. Armstrong did say there would be an update on on his health today, and we all hope for the best news.

This moment however also makes me think about other times we're reminded that hockey is just a game. From the gut wrenching images of Clint Malarchuk and Richard Zednik, to the untimely passing of Luc Bourdon, to the heartbreaking summer we lost Wade Belak, Rick Rypien, and Derek Boogaard. It's times like these when the hockey community comes together. When your fiercest rival becomes your brother. The game becomes second fiddle. Family comes first, and that's exactly what hockey is. From the players, coaches, staff, front office, and fans. We're a family, and last night, our family was shook. So join me as we hope for the best recovery possible for Bouwmeester. #PrayforJay

I do apologize about my absense. I've been dealing with a few things personally, but I felt I had to write this, as moments like this show me how insignificant my issues truly are. Hug your families. Take the time to tell them you love them. We don't know what will happen in life, and we're not always promised tomorrow. We take life for granted. Luckily, Jay Bouwmeester gets another day. Don't take today for granted. Don't wait until it's to late. Life doesn't always give us second chances.
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