Bouwmeester a winner with Team Canada

Jay Bouwmeester may be a big loser when it comes to the NHL, but the Flames defenceman has enjoyed...

Jay Bouwmeester may be a big loser when it comes to the NHL, but the Flames defenceman has enjoyed international success as a member of Team Canada. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency file photo)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:48 AM ET

ZURICH - Jay Bouwmeester is a serial loser.

It's his career storyline. His claim to fame.

Bouwmeester is getting close -- at 717 -- to owning the NHL record for most games played by a player who has never played in a Stanley Cup playoff game. The record of 799 was set by Calgary Flames team-mate Olli Jokinen before he finally made it to the post-season in 2008-09.

Jay Bouwmeester is the Joe Btfsplk of hockey.

Btfsplk was the iconic character in Al Capp's Li'l Abner comic strip of yesteryear, a well-meaning, hapless guy with the world's worst jinx. Btfsplk brought misfortune to everyone around him as he went through life with a dark rain cloud perpetually hanging over his head.

But one thing about Jay Bo Btfsplk on his way to everlasting infamy as he approaches the all-time record for futility. He's not a loser over here!

When the guy who plays for $6.6 million a season for the Calgary Flames plays for free for Canada, he's a winner.

He owns two world championship gold (2003 and 2004) and a silver (2008) from his previous appearances with Team Canada at the event, won a gold medal at the last Canada Cup/World Cup of Hockey in 2004. One of the few players to play in three world juniors, he also brought back medals from all of those.

Indeed, the only time he didn't come home with a medal was when he was a late replacement for injured Scott Niedermayer at the 2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games.

The son of former University of Alberta Golder Bears Dan Bouwmeester has played a combined 58 games, junior and senior, for Canada going into the world championships which open Friday in Helsinki.

He has seven medals -- three gold, two silver and two bronze -- to show for it.

And he's back to get another gold.

"Actually, my three world juniors kind of fit with the other thing," said Bouwmeester of his missing the playoffs.

"I was 16 my first year and it was just cool to be there. But with bronze, bronze and silver, it was tough not winning. That was just after winning five in a row and everybody was talking about what was wrong with Canada.

"But my first two years of pro I came over and won gold in Finland and again in Prague. Obviously you want to be in the playoffs. But it was a great experience. And the Canada Cup was obviously pretty unreal playing with Joe Sakic and all those guys."

He won silver at the 2008 event in Halifax and Quebec City. That was the last time he put on the uniform.

"One year I had a bad hip," he said. "And the other two years I was so frustrated and so mentally drained ...

"This year, though, when they called, I was pretty excited to go. For one thing, I could see this was going to be a pretty good team."

And this is still the only way he gets to play in May.

When he hit free agency, Bouwmeester after seven seasons with the pathetic Florida Panthers, departed to join the Flames with the idea he'd finally find out what it would be like to play in the Stanley Cup tournament.

The Flames haven't made it since he arrived.

Meanwhile, you may have noticed, the Panthers went seven games against the New Jersey Devils this year.

Still Joe Btfsplk.

But Bouwmeester gets a raw deal when it comes to claims to fame.

His approaching record of consecutive games without making the playoffs is one thing. But he has another streak going, too.

He holds the longest active streak -- 588 games -- of consecutive games played. Doug Jarvis of the Montreal Canadiens is the all-time NHL iron man, having played all 974 games of his career without missing one.

"I don't know what to say about that," he said.

"It's more something that's just happened."

Stuff happens. And doesn't happen.

But Jay Bouwmeester is on this side of the ocean answering Canada's call again hoping this is still where the good stuff happens.

"We have a real good chance, with this team, to win," he said.

Departed Flames coach Brent Sutter said he hopes it can happen for Bouwmeester.

"I'm sure he's not thrilled to have missed the playoffs again. But this is an opportunity for Bo to be on a championship team here."

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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