Redemption quest for Bouwmeester

Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester is hoping this will be his year to bounce back. (Al...

Calgary Flames defenceman Jay Bouwmeester is hoping this will be his year to bounce back. (Al Charest/QMI AGENCY)

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

Even from the heights of the Swiss Alps this summer, Jay Bouwmeester could never fully get away from the disappointment of last season.

Don’t let his low-key, soft-spoken demeanour fool you, Bouwmeester spent plenty of time over the past few months playing back in his mind what went wrong during his first season with the Calgary Flames.

And spent plenty of time vowing to reach expectations this coming campaign.

“I went from scoring 15 goals the two previous years to only three. That was a pretty big disappointment for myself, for sure. More is expected,” Bouwmeester said before hitting the links for Thursday’s annual Flames charity golf tournament.

“It was a weird year last year, I think, for myself and for a lot of guys.

“That’s the theme here, a bounce-back.”

Bouwmeester’s arrival in Calgary after seven seasons with the Florida Panthers organization was supposed to be the tonic for both him and the Flames.

Blessed with all the tools to be a Norris Trophy candidate, he would finally receive a taste of NHL playoff action while making the Flames Stanley Cup contenders.

Instead, everything went south.

The Flames failed to make the playoffs, done in by their lack of offence.

Among the culprits who failed to light the lamp often enough was Bouwmeester, who managed just three goals and 29 points — his worst totals the post-lockout era.

“I was getting some chances and, at times, it seemed it was never going to happen. It kinda didn’t,” said Bouwmeester, who’ll turn 27 this month.

“And you’ve got to do the things that give you the best chance to score. You’ve got to shoot the puck, get it through from the point, join the rush, those things. It’s a combination, but as long as you’re making the effort and are conscious about the things that are going to create opportunities, that’s all you can do.”

Ultimately, he wasn’t doing those things often enough.

For starters, his teammates failed to notice him when he’d pinch in from the point.

However, Bouwmeester — whose incredible skating skills make him the perfect defenceman to join the rush — didn’t take charge offensively often enough.

He plans to be more of an offensive catalyst, but insisted it won’t be at the expense of his defensive game.

“I’m not going to totally change anything. It’s more taking advantage of the opportunities,” he said.

“You can do the things (to be a bigger part of the offence), but I don’t think it’s going totally change a lot. When you think about it, if a few things go differently once in a while over 82 games, at the end of the year, it’s totally different stats-wise.

“I’m not going to try and re-invent the wheel, but there’s obviously higher expectations.”

Around the league, though, the expectations of the Flames appear lower.

Since the lockout, talk about Calgary was as a Stanley Cup contender, or at least a playoff team.

This year, the pundits aren’t being as kind. Most prognosticators see the Flames barely making the playoffs, if at all.

“Look at Colorado and Phoenix last year. What did people expect them to do? Now, more than ever, at the start it’s anybody’s game and everybody has a chance,” Bouwmeester said.

“Last year, we weren’t that great in our own division and weren’t that great at home — when you play at home in a sold-out building with a great atmosphere, you’ve got to take advantage of it. Those things right there, if you’re better, you’re in.

“I don’t think you can take too much of (those predictions) to heart, but when people say you’re not going to do much, it gives you some sense to give it back to them.”


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