This is probably not what he had in mind, but it will surely do. On Monday, the St. Louis Blues announced they will be without defenseman Jay Bouwmeester for the remainder of the season.
Bouwmeester suffered the injury during Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars, and is expected to be on the sideline for the next four to six months. When you see the previous lines you think, the poor guy, injured for the remainder of the season, while his team has been trying to prove to the general manager Doug Armstrong that he was wrong to trade forward Paul Stastny to the Winnipeg Jets and that the Blues could still fight for a playoff berth, as they currently sit two points out of the last Wild Card spot available in the Western Conference, that the Los Angeles are holding on to with 77 points.
However, do not feel too sorry for Bouwmeester. The 34-year-old is now planning a perfect strategy to ensure that the Blues cannot buy out his contract. You see, the veteran defender has one more season left on his five-year, $27 million contract. But even if the Blues had intentions to buy out the final year of his deal, they won't be able to do so now.
The Athletic's Jeremy Rutherford explains in his latest article why the Blues will not the able to buy out Bouwmeester's deal:
"The buyout window runs every summer from June 15-30, but Bouwmeester will not be cleared to play in that time frame. He has yet to decide on a date for the surgery, but even if it takes place in the next week, a four-month recovery would mean that full clearance wouldn't come until July at the earliest and six months would put it at September.
Rule 23.4 of the CBA says:
“A Player under an SPC (standard player contract) who is disabled and unable to perform his duties as a hockey Player by reason of an injury sustained during the course of his employment as a hockey Player … shall be entitled to receive his remaining Paragraph 1 Salary and Signing Bonuses due in accordance with the terms of his SPC for the remaining stated term of his SPC as long as the said disability and inability to perform continue but in no event beyond the expiration date of the fixed term of his SPC.”
In other words, an injured player can not be bought out of his contract because his full salary is guaranteed and a buyout would not provide that."
So despite the frustration of an injury riddled 2017-18 campaign, as Bouwmeester also missed the first 21 games of the season after fracturing his left ankle while attempting to block a shot during a training camp scrimmage on Sept. 17, there is some positive to it for the veteran blue liner.
"Interestingly, if Bouwmeester had elected to have the surgery back in December when the injury occurred, it might have been possible for him to be cleared in time for the buyout window. But at that time, the defenseman, who knew he'd need surgery eventually, was hoping that would be in the offseason, not in March," adds Rutherford.
So perfect timing, perfect plan for the 1,106 NHL games veteran. And now, Armstrong only stated some positive about his player, knowing he needs to keep him in the fold and change his original plan to buy out his contract.
“Jay wants to play through anything, and it shows a lot of character for him to play through the pain of his hip,” Armstrong said. “From December on it was very painful doing day-to-day things and playing hockey. But he fought through it for us and I give him full marks for that.
“When you can't practice, it says a lot about where your injury is at. He could have got this surgery earlier, but he wanted to continue to play and I think that's how you get to be an 'Ironman' like he was. We all have aches and pains, but when you're of his status and you're ready to play every night in the NHL and not play sheltered minutes, it says a lot about his character.”
Bouwmeester was once operated on his hip, 10 years ago, and ended up missing four months of action. He is hoping this procedure will be similar to the one he underwent when he was 24 years old.
“Hopefully with this case everything goes good and back for camp,” Bouwmeester said. “Personally going forward, I want to be here. I like it here. It's been great for my family. We've had good teams and I see that continuing moving forward.”
At least now, a buy out is off the table!