In the 102-year history of the National Hockey League, 348 individuals have played 1,000 or more regular season games. 44 of them, or 12.6%, have played some part of their career with the Atlanta or Calgary Flames. We call these players Long-Timers.
Let’s take a look at Jay Bouwmeester.
A product of Edmonton, Bouwmeester grew up lanky and came up through the Western Hockey League with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was selected third overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2002 NHL Draft.
Bouwmeester leapt straight into the NHL as a fresh-faced 19-year-old with Florida. He logged a lot of minutes and played a lot of games for the Panthers, playing all 82 games in five of his six seasons in Sunrise. While he never had eye-popping offensive outputs – 46 points in 2005-06 was his career high – Bouwmeester’s ranginess and steadiness made him a hot commodity. He was seventh in Calder voting in 2002-03 and received Norris votes in 2006-07 and 2008-09.
In arguably Darryl Sutter’s biggest attempt at upgrading his team, the Flames acquired Bouwmeester’s rights four days before he hit free agency and signed him – Florida got Jordan Leopold and a third round pick. Bouwmeester played a ton for the Flames, but never moved the needle over four minus seasons. With the Flames beginning a rebuild, he was shipped to St. Louis in exchange for Reto Berra, Mark Cundari and a first round pick.
Bouwmeester had one big offensive season (by his standards) for the Blues with 37 points, then he settled into a complementary role with the club. He played his first playoff games in 2002-03 (after 10 years in the NHL) and won a Stanley Cup in 2019.
Bouwmeester’s playing career is probably over due to his cardiac episode in February 2020 in Anaheim, but he had a superb run. He won gold at the Olympics, World Cup, and the World Championship. (He also captured silver and bronze at the World Juniors.) He was never a blow-away great player, but he was probably one of the best secondary defenders of his era.