Medicine Hat, AB –– The Medicine Hat Tigers have only had a select alumni who have had the privilege of playing 1000 or more games at the NHL level. Jay Bouwmeester is on his way to becoming the next member of Tigers alum hitting quadruple digits in games played. He will become the 7th Tiger of 305 former Tigers who have suited up in the NHL to reach the mark.
Bouwmeester’s Tiger career began as a lanky 16 year old during the 1998-99 season, playing in just 8 games, recording his first career WHL goal in his first career game against the Red Deer Rebels on November 6th, 1998. He would go on to record 3 points that year, finishing the season with the big club playing in the remaining 5 games. The following season Bouwmeester was on full time duty. The Tigers blue line was almost bolstered immediately as Tiger fans knew they had a good one. The Edmonton, Alberta product scored 34 points in his first full season and followed that with 53 and 61 point campaigns.
Jay was selected in the 1st Round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, 3rd Overall to the Florida Panthers. The following season Jay made the jump to the NHL during the 2002-2003 season, playing in all 82 games and recording 16 points for the Panthers, who were rebuilding at the time and looking to build off their 1996 Stanley Cup appearance.
In 2005-06 Jay started what would be the longest iron man streak in the NHL as he did not miss as game for 7 consecutive seasons on the Panthers and Calgary Flames blue line. Bouwmeester was dealt to the Flames before the 2009-10 season, looking to go to the post season for the first time in his career, after 6 seasons. The Flames unfortunately wouldn’t deliver on the playoff promise for Bouwmeester which saw himself head to the contending St. Louis Blues. Jay played in his first playoff game in the 2012-13 season, 13 years after his Tigers and junior career would start.
Heading into this season Bouwmeester is just 7 games away from 1000 in his career and he should hit the mark against his former club, the Calgary Flames in front of the home crowd on October 25th.
Bouwmeester will join 6 others in the elusive 1000 games club for Tigers alumni, joining:
Trevor Linden – 1382 NHL Games Played
Rob Niedermayer – 1152 NHL Games Played
Bryan McCabe – 1135 NHL Games Played
Lanny MacDonald – 1111 NHL Games Played
Murray Craven – 1071 NHL Games Played
Craig Berube – 1054 NHL Games Played
This season also will see former Tiger Jason Chimera reach the 1000 games played mark. Chimera joined the New York Islanders this past off-season and needs just 46 games (as of October 18th, 2016) to reach the mark. Watch for our feature later on Jason!