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Bouwmeester Undergoes Surgery, Questions Include NHL Future After ICD Device Implanted

The St. Louis Blues announced Friday that Jay Bouwmeester had undergone a successful surgical procedure called Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator procedure. What’s next for his NHL career?

The St. Louis Blues announced Friday morning that defenceman Jay Bouwmeester had undergone a successful surgery described as an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator procedure. He remains in the care of the cardiology department but is said to be doing well.

The Blues wrote on their official NHL.com page:

The procedure, which restores the heart’s normal rhythm, was performed by the cardiology team of the UCI Cardiology Department, headed by Chief Cardiologist Dr. Pranav M. Patel.

The surgery was required after Bouwmeester collapsed on the bench during a game versus the Anaheim Ducks this week. He was alert and responsive and texting friends that evening but what had actually happened was still somewhat of a mystery. The entire NHL sent their well-wishes and the league came together out of concern for the player’s well-being.

Now, as Bouwmeester recovers, there will be questions about his NHL playing future.

How Does an ICD Affect Bouwmeester’s NHL Future?

Part of the device implanted into Bouwmeester comes with the advice that all contact sports be a no-go. But, John Shannon reports that the NHL does not have a rule against a player playing with such a device inserted.

Shannon tweeted:

“There is nothing in the CBA, or insurance-wise, prohibiting him the returning to play, even with a pacemaker implanted. Obviously, long term health is the biggest key, but there are no reasons (or waivers to sign) that could prevent him from returning.

The question now will be, how good an idea is it should Bouwmeester decide he wants to make a return?

In short, athletes with an ICD device represent a diverse group of individuals who may be at an increased risk of sudden cardiac death when engaging in vigorous physical activity. Professional hockey (or any hockey for that matter) would certainly qualify. Recommendations suggest sports that are not considered low intensity be avoided. Something like bowling and/or golf might qualify as low intensity.

In some cases, it’s not uncommon for devices like these to send warnings even when those who have them are doing something as simple as shoveling a driveway full of snow.

Then, of course, there’s the issue of being medically cleared or an insurance company covering Bouwmeester should he want to play. Obviously, his circumstance would pose as a major risk.

Clearly, Bouwmeester isn’t expected to make a decision anytime soon. Right now, his focus should be on recovering and getting as well as he can. As time goes by, there will be plenty of talk about his future and it shouldn’t come as a shock if people suggest that after 1200 NHL games, a Stanley Cup, and an Olympic Gold medal, he might want to call it a day.

What’s Next for the Blues?

As for St. Louis, without Bouwmeester, focus will shift to the team potentially looking at a defenseman via the trade deadline. Obviously, a statement has not been made about Bouwmeester’s recovery timeline or playing future but the expectation is that over the next few days, there will be discussion about how the Blues proceed and try to fill a gap on the blue line as they make their way into this year’s NHL playoffs.

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