MONTREAL -- Jay Bouwmeester generated a lot more attention at his second All-Star Game than he did in his first two years ago in Dallas.
Almost all the talk surrounded Jay's contract status and whether he would remain in South Florida. He didn't offer much new, but when you talk about one thing so much, eventually something different may come out.
Like this: Jay at one point said he was going to sit back and wait until the end of the year before making any decision on signing with the Panthers. Problem with that is, Jacques Martin may have already traded him by then. I asked if there was any chance he signs before the trading deadline and Jay was very non-committal.
''I don't know. It's hard to say. You
don't want to rule anything out, but we'll have to wait and see.
There hasn't been a lot of talk lately. I'm going to take it as it
comes. Anything is possible.''
And, on this possibly being the last major event he represents the Panthers at:
''For the time being, I'm there. I want
to help that team win.
''This year we've made some real strides, we're
playing well. I'm just going out and playing. Honestly, I'm not
worried about it. There's no sense getting worked up over it now. I
have to evaluate things. There's going to come a time when I do have
to deal with it. For the time being, I'm going to go out and play
hockey. It's hockey, it's not life or death. Having fun is the most
Here's the rest of the interview:
On playing in Montreal: ''There's
obviously a lot of tradition, it's a neat city. Whenever you come
here there's a real buzz. People are passionate about hockey. You
look at the history, it's been around forever and they've had a lot
of success. Florida is just now growing. It's different.''
On being traded to Montreal: ''If
something happens, or whatever, that's the business side of stuff.
Right now I'm not to worried about it. I'll take it as it comes.''
Distracting?: ''Not really. I don't get
bothered too much with it unless I come to Canada. I'm not really
distracted. This doesn't distract me, doesn't affect how I play. I'm
not worried about what someone is going to ask me. There's no way
around it. People are going to ask question. I just have to handle
Possible last big event as a member of
the Panthers: ''For the time being, I'm there. I want to help that
team win. This year we've made some real strides, we're playing well.
I'm just going out and playing. Honestly, I'm not worried about it.
There's no sense getting worked up over it now. I have to evaluate
things. There's going to come a time when I do have to deal with it.
For the time being, I'm going to go out and play hockey. It's hockey,
it's not life or death. Having fun is the most important thing.''
Are you having fun?: ''Yeah, in years
past we've played well at the end of the year where we made up ground
but it was too late. This year, we're in it at this point. I think
everyone is excited about that, we realize we are a good team. People
underestimate us a bit, but thats because we haven't had much
success. But everyone in our room knows how good we are. We've beaten
some pretty good teams.''
Are you faced with a decision?: ''To a
certain extent. I said at the beginning of the year that I wouldn't
commit to anything because of all the changes. I've seen that before.
I've been there six years and I've had four coaches. To jump into the
unknown, well, I wasn't ready to do that. At the end of the year,
I'll evaluate the whole situation. I'm not going to make a spur of
the moment decision. One week into the season you can't go one way or
another. You have to let it play out. In the back of your head you
have to be prepared for whatever. There are times when decisions have
to be made. I'll worry about it then. I'm not worried about it now.''
Talked to Jacques?: ''I haven't
personally talked to him about anything. He and my agents have had
talks, it's all good. I don't think right now there is a deadline, no
Any chance you sign something next
month?: ''I don't know. It's hard to say. You don't want to rule
anything out, but we'll have to wait and see. There hasn't been a lot
of talk lately. I'm going to take it as it comes. Anything is
There will be a lot of money out there:
''That's not always everything. I've never played in the playoffs.
That's No. 1. Where that is, whether its Florida or not, who knows?''
Could you see yourself playing in
Canada?: ''I grew up in Canada, a place where hockey is pretty big.
There are differences everywhere in the league. People are more
passionate here. That's exciting when people take an interest like
that. It's fun to play, and it's different if you have to deal with
it everyday. There are pros and cons to everything. There is
something nice about being out of the limelight every once in a
On playing in Montreal: ''It's probably
the best place to play hockey to me. I always come here and get
excited about the game. This is a good time for me, and I'm real
happy right now. It's not just a good game. These fans love seeing
the game, like seeing the good players.''
''I hope everyone has fun. Last year I
had a lot of fun but was a little bit nervous. This year, I've set a
goal to relax and have even more fun if that's possible.''
On being on the home side in Montreal:
''It's going to be strange seeing Montreal's room and come out on the
other side of the ice. I've done it so many times from the other
side. Just last year, between the preseason and the playoffs, we
played Montreal 17 times. Not all of them were here, but at least 10
of them were. It will be a little bit different. We'll see if they
VINNY THE CAVALIER
Ready for Montreal?: A few people told me what to expect. But to tell you the truth, I came off the plane yesterday and saw all the fans and didn't know what to expect. But when I walked through those doors and seeing the hundreds of people waiting for autographs and waiting for the players to arrive. I don't think anyone expected a welcome like that.
What is so special about hockey here?: The history behind the Montreal Canadiens and all the Stanley Cups that they've won. Obviously it's like a religion here. Everyone loves the Canadiens. For someone being born here, to play here, obviously there's added pressure. But I think it's a good pressure. I think it's a great town.
''There's pressure in any town. There's pressure in Tampa. There's pressure on my NHL team. I think I like to put pressure on myself to be the best that I can play. We're paid to play hockey. It's a great sport. But there's pressure to perform.
Has management eased your concerns of a trade?: Well, they've talked to me and like they've told everyone else when we got back to Tampa. They had a press conference, and they just said they weren't going to trade me. If it were to happen, they would talk to Vinny first. So I don't think it's anything. What they've told you, they've told me.'
Are you preparing for a trade?: I don't know. I don't think so. But in professional sports, you can't predict the future. If it happens, it happens. Like I said, I love being in Tampa. The coaching staff is great, the players are great. I really enjoy being there.
More as it comes...