Bouw geste or a Bouw jest?

Jean Lefebvre
June 28 2009 09:16AM

One website proclaimed it a “Bouw Coup.” A very neat and clever play on words, but how much of a coup was it really for the Flames to acquire the negotiating rights to lanky defenceman Jay Bouwmeester in exchange for a third-round draft choice?

The answer of course depends on the level of understanding that exists, if any, between the Flames and the Bouwmeester camp in regards to hammering out a new deal. Or it depends on how quickly Darryl Sutter can sweet-talk the d-man known as J-Bo into signing on the dotted line instead of tossing himself onto the open market and letting the offers pour in.

Sutter, who has absolutely no reason to tell the truth on the matter, claims there were no pre-trade negotiations with Bouwmeester and agent Byron Baltimore. Those with less to hide (but also with questionable actual insight into the situation) seem to be of the opinion that this is nothing more than a four-day window of opportunity to discuss with Bouwmeester. In other words, more along the lines of Montreal’s ill-fated acquisition of Mats Sundin’s rights a year ago than Philadelphia’s trade-and-sign flim-flam with Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen in 2007.

So, Flames fans, the question you have to ask yourself is: Just how much is a lottery ticket to the best free-agent blue-liner on the market worth? Is it worthy of the No. 67 overall pick. Or, to put a name on this game, is it worth a Gregory Campbell or a Kris Russell?

Those two chaps, a Florida forward and a Columbus defenceman, are the two of the better selections to come out of the No. 67 slot in the best two decades, give or take a Jim Cummins or a Brad Isbister. After that, it’s a who’s-who of who’s-that? – Kirill Tulupov, Nick Johnson, Igor Mirnov, Robin Leblanc, Max Birbraer, Evgeny Konstantinov, Alex Henry, Mike Souza, Gordie Dwyer, Craig Reichert, Mikael Tjallden, Travis Thiessen, Kerry Toporowski and Joel Blain.

But whatever you do, lovers of the Flaming-C, don’t go back 21 years. That’s because the No. 67 choice in 1988 was none other than Hall-of-Famer in waiting Mark Recchi. (And to give you an idea what kind of draft it was that year, two of the three picks after Recchi were – yikes! -- Tony Amonte and Rob Blake).

Now chances are Josh Birkholz, the guy the Panthers took with the pick they got from the Flames for the 96-hour bargaining-athon with Bouwmeester, will be more Birbraer than Recchi, but wouldn’t it be a cruel blow to the solar plexus for Bouwmeester to spurn the Flames’ advances and for Birkholz to turn into a pretty good player?

Thanks to the Coyotes’ charitable gesture to take Jim Vandermeer’s contract off the Flames’ hands – maybe somebody needs to have a judge look at that decision –Calgary has some loot to toss at Bouwmeester. Now the question is: Do they have the salesmanship to convince Bouwmeester to come here tout de suite?

While you’re pondering that, here , courtesy of veteran hockey scribe, is a horrible thought if you’re a Flames fan – what if (just what if mind you) there’s a sliver of truth to the gossip that Olli Jokinen is a horrible teammate? Wouldn’t ex-Panthers teammate Bouwmeester be fully aware of that and decide to try his luck with one of the other 28 teams? Or at least one of the seven or eight clubs with the cap room and buying impulse to bid for the rearguard’s services?

Fasten your seat belts, boys and girls, it’s going to be a helluva ride.

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Lefebvre is in that awkward stage of hockey following -- old enough to fondly remember the Cleveland Barons and too set in his ways to accept charity points and games where there's a winner but apparently no loser. As a long-time ink-stained wretch, he's also a firm believer in the old Bobby Knight quote about journalists: "All of us learn to write in second grade, but most of us go on to better things."
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#1 Lefebvre
June 28 2009, 10:31AM
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More on the Bouwmeester situation from the Herald's George Johnson, who spoke to the defenceman's father. If pop holds any sway in his son's hockey decisions, this doesn't bode particularly well for the Flames.

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"He makes his own decisions, but if I were him I’d wait until July 1 to see what’s out there,’’ he admitted. “He knows Calgary has a good team, and he’s always said he enjoyed playing there. But how many chances does a player have at unrestricted free agency? Who knows what might come along? The money isn’t going to be (the determining factor).

“No, I’m not surprised (at the trade). Florida had to do something to get something out of it. And Calgary was smart. But that doesn’t make him their player yet.’’

Dan Bouwmeester also shot down the misconception around these parts that in making the deal, the Flames had the inside track.

“That is totally false.’’

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#2 RossCreek
June 28 2009, 11:49AM
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Wasn't the 3rd they gave up the one they got from Jersey? If so, they essentially traded down 3 spots, still got the guy they wanted (read/heard somewhere that Erixson's name was actually sewed on, not the typical velcro namebar), created a 3rd round pick so that they could make the J-Bo move, dumped a d-man they weren't gonna resign, dumped a d-man that has tons of heart & character but a bigger ticket than he should, thus creating cap space, and reacquire a spark plug he never wanted to lose in the 1st place. Sounds good to me.

And do you really think that Olli Jokinen could have THAT much of a negative impact regardless of what Bouwmeester thinks of him?

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#3 RossCreek
June 28 2009, 11:49AM
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For what its worth, the ~mastermind~ Eklund says the deal is “done with a 6.3 cap hit”. Ya… I’ll believe it when I hear it from a reputable source.

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#4 RossCreek
June 28 2009, 01:07PM
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Do you think the Flames could flip Corey Sarich to Boston for Marco Sturm, or to Toronto for Niklas Hagman? Would you?

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#5 Bar Qu
June 28 2009, 03:01PM
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Sutter has done some impressive things with contract negotiations before, so I don't necessarily write off this trade yet. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if there were some sort of announcement as early as tomorrow. I think for a guy of J-Bo's character, the chance to play with Regehr, Phaneuf and Iginla would be a real selling point, especially if you consider the Flames' chances to move to the cup finals with the kind of total defence they would have.

But as my wife likes to remind me, I am often catastrophically wrong.

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#6 Lefebvre
June 28 2009, 03:43PM
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RossCreek wrote:

And do you really think that Olli Jokinen could have THAT much of a negative impact regardless of what Bouwmeester thinks of him?

Matthew Barnaby's cancer comment notwithstanding, outsiders can only guess at the nature of the relationship between Jokinen and Bouwmeester or any other former teammates.

But in a general sense, it's not hard to imagine disliking a co-worker enough that you'd think twice about re-entering the same workplace with him or her again. Especially in case where you've got plenty of other options, all of them offering you millions of dollars.

Either way, it's just speculation and it's likely Bouwmeester has at least eight other considerations that are as important than the pros and cons of a reunion with Jokinen.

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#7 Librarian Mike
June 28 2009, 04:59PM
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For the entirety of his pro career Bouwmeester's been basically given a free ride as a player because he played for a lousy team.

Assuming he goes to the Flames, it will be interesting to see how Bouwmeester responds to the pressure of fans and media who 1) care about how the team does and 2) can tell when a player is phoning it in.

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#8 ryanr2009
June 30 2009, 01:52PM
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Lefebvre wrote:

Matthew Barnaby’s cancer comment notwithstanding, outsiders can only guess at the nature of the relationship between Jokinen and Bouwmeester or any other former teammates

I don't quite follow. What did Barnaby say?

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