CALGARY - Jay Bouwmeester’s near record streak of playoff misses continues.
It’s not necessarily a substitute for a shot at the Stanley Cup, but the minute-munching defenceman hasn’t played his final hockey game before summer vacation.
After Monday’s exit meetings at the Saddledome, the Calgary Flames’ assistant captain confirmed he’s accepted an invite to skate for Team Canada at the upcoming world championships.
“It’s something you can salvage at the end of the year,” Bouwmeester said.
“By no means do you ever start a season thinking, ‘Oh man, I hope I go to the world championships.’ That doesn’t go through anyone’s mind. Starting two days ago, when you aren’t in the playoffs, this is something you can go do.”
It doesn’t appeal to everybody.
Flames rearguards Chris Butler (U.S.) and Mark Giordano (Canada) both seemed open to the idea of attending the worlds, although neither has received an official invitation from their country.
Jarome Iginla (Canada) once again declined, while fellow countryman Curtis Glencross’ wife is pregnant with their second child and the speedy winger understandably told officials he’ll be staying close to home.
On Monday afternoon, Finland’s Olli Jokinen told reporters there was “zero chance” he’d attend the event, even though the games are split between his home country (Helsinki) and neighbouring Sweden (Stockholm).
“For older guys, there’s only one thing you play for,” Jokinen said.
“After you’re done, out of the playoffs, it’s a long season. (The world championship) is a tough tournament if you aren’t mentally ready for it.”
Bouwmeester, who already has gobs of international experience on his resume, seems excited about the getaway.
Now 28, he represented Team Canada at three consecutive world junior tournaments from 2000-02 and will be making his fourth trip to the world championships, where he claimed back-to-back gold medals in’03 and ’04.
His resume also includes appearances at the ’04 World Cup of Hockey, the ’06 Torino Olympics and the ’08 World Championships.
“I just wanted to play more hockey — that’s the gist of it,” the Edmonton native said with a shrug.
“This year, it just seemed like a good time. In years past, you do feel tired at the end of the year and you don’t want to play hockey. You want to get away from it.
“(Missing the playoffs) is frustrating for everyone here. Maybe I can go enjoy myself.”
Bouwmeester has now skated in 717 NHL contests without once earning an invite to the spring dance. The record for the longest wait before playoff action actually belongs Jokinen, who skated in 799 games before getting a taste of post-season hockey.
The wait isn’t yet over for Bouwmeester, but at least he has some meaningful games to look forward to.
Team Canada will open its world championship schedule May 4 against Slovakia. Forwards Jordan Eberle, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and John Tavares, defencemen Dion Phaneuf and P.K. Subban and goalie Cam Ward have reportedly all agreed to wear the maple leaf.
“Everybody would rather be in the playoffs, but it’s competitive hockey. I will go over there and hopefully have a chance to win,” Bouwmeester said.
“When you are over there, you take it seriously and you want to win. You do have a bunch of guys not in the playoffs, but there are top players from all sorts of countries. It’s competitive. That can only help you.”