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Look Who's Back: Jay Bouwmeester in South Florida

Bocalgary

Not much going on right now, what with GM Randy Sexton in Rochester and the Panthers not playing for a few days.

The big news around town is the return of Jay Bouwmeester.

'Big Bo' returns to the BankAtlantic Center on Friday night for the first time since he played his final game there with the Panthers on April 11, 2009.

Bouwmeester refused to sign a long-term deal with the Panthers and, in June, was traded to Calgary where he almost immediately signed a five-year pact with the Flames.

One of the reasons Bouwmeester wanted out of Florida was because of the lack of passion that exists for hockey in the sunny south.

In Calgary, the hockey team is the biggest thing going. Teammates in Florida weren't exactly surprised when he left after seven years with the franchise.

“I'm used to playing with him, not against him, but when the game starts, that's out the door,'' said Stephen Weiss, Bouwmeester's teammate since 2002. “We'll get our hellos in before the game, but then it's all business. We were pretty close. We came here at about the same time, spent a lot of time in the early years together. We became pretty close buddies.''

Said coach Pete DeBoer: “I think we're going to see the best of Bo here. He's going to be skating with the puck, moving and jumping into the play. When he's at the top of his game, he's hard to handle.''

Yet when the Flames struggle, it's not much fun to be playing in Calgary. On Wednesday, the Flames won for just the third time in 15 games. General manager Darryl Sutter made two big trades in the past week, trading All-Star defenseman Dion Phaneuf to Toronto and former Panthers captain Olli Jokinen to the Rangers.

When Bouwmeester was with the Panthers and they were struggling – which was often – no big deal. In Calgary?

“There are obviously differences between the two places, but honestly this has been good,'' said Bouwmeester. “I knew what I was getting into. People are pretty passionate about their hockey up here and they take some pride in the team. If you are doing well, it affects the city in a good way. They take pride in their hockey here. There's an obvious interest.''

Bouwmeester hasn't been the player the Flames had hoped for on the offensive end – and he's starting to feel the heat for it. Bouwmeester scored 15 goals in each of the past two seasons with the Panthers. Through 57 games this season, he has two. Bouwmeester says he's not letting the criticism affect his game.

“This year has brought a lot of ups and downs,'' said Bouwmeester, who faced the Panthers this preseason in Calgary. “The offensive side of things haven't gone the way I would have liked. That's been the case for a lot of guys around here. It's one of those things where take it a day at a time. I want to bring success, but it's been a little bit hard to come by.

Jordan Leopold, who came to the Panthers from Calgary in the summertime trade, says it's hard to shield yourself from criticism in a Canadian hockey market. There were a lot of expectations for the Flames this season – many preseason publications had them as a Stanley Cup contender from the west – and now the team is struggling just to make the playoffs.

The Flames beat Carolina 4-1 on Wednesday to give them two wins in their past three – albeit against two of the worst teams in the league. Friday's game in Sunrise kicks off a three-game road trip, a stint away from home that may be welcomed.

For Bouwmeester, this is just another road game for him. He never put down roots in South Florida and seemed like he couldn't wait to get out of town during the offseason. This region isn't for everyone – and it definitely wasn't to Bouwmeester's liking. A native of Edmonton, Bouwmeester has found his way home although he says he does have a number of fond memories of his time with the Panthers.

“I don't really have too many expectations of what's going to happen,'' he said. “We're going to play a game and move on. I'm not really treating it as a big deal. There are some people I'd like to see, sure, but we're not there for very long. It won't be a big distraction.''

BOOTH UP FRONT

David Booth was back on Florida's top line as early as the second period on Monday. He'll start Friday's game there as well, reunited with Weiss at center. This will be Booth's third game back from a 45 game absence because of a concussion.

The Panthers hope the revamped top line will create some offensive production. Both Weiss and Michael Frolik have struggled of late. Weiss has one goal in nine games; Frolik one in 11.

“I don't think there's any doubt we have a couple of guys who need to find their offensive game,'' DeBoer said of a team that has nine goals in eight games. “We have to make sure we're giving those guys an opportunity, but it's not a job for life on that line. If you don't produce, you might want to give other people a chance.''

MORE BO ON OLLI

The Flames are a much different team today than they were a few days ago. Gone is Phaneuf as well as Jokinen.

"This is one of those things where we're in it as a team,'' Bouwmeester said about the Flames' struggles.

"It's not one guy doing his thing on his own. With all these changes and stuff, I think on paper, we're good from a forward standpoint. We have a whole bunch of forwards, lot of depth there. We hope to start clicking right away. Get off and running.

"You don't really think about those [trades] too much. The way it went down with the rumors and it finally happened lad night, had everyone on edge. This time a week ago, no, not worrying about that kind of thing. I think it was a roller coaster for [Olli], not knowing what was going on.

"I saw him last night when he was leaving. He would have liked to stay, but he realized the situation. He's getting a fresh start.''

-- And for those of you who don't like reading about Bo and Olli, here's a little something for you. I wrote this in the summer when the Panthers visited Calgary.

It's obvious Jokinen still has a soft spot in his heart for the Panthers. And he can't wait to return to Sunrise for the first time since being traded away when Calgary visits on Feb. 5.

''They had a good run last year and hopefully this year they can make the playoffs this year,'' said Jokinen, who spent most of the summer with his wife Katerina and their daughters at their Broward County home.

''I especially wish that for the fans in South Florida. They deserve to see playoff hockey. They have been very supportive all these years. The Panthers came close, hopefully they take that extra step. .-.-. In February, it'll be a lot of fun there. It'll be strange being on the other side.''

FRIDAY: FLAMES AT PANTHERS

When, Where: 7:30 p.m.; BankAtlantic Center, Sunrise

TV/Radio: FSNF; WAXY-790

The series: Calgary leads 11-6-3

The game: The Flames are making just their third appearance in Sunrise since 2002. The Panthers have gotten three of four points in the previous two home games. Calgary has won two of three – although those wins were against Edmonton and Carolina. The Flames have won just three of their past 15 (3-9-3). Thanks to a couple of trades, the Flames will have eight fairly new faces in the lineup. Tomas Vokoun will start in net Friday and likely again Saturday in Atlanta.

Comments

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it is clear and it was at the start of last season that Bouwmeester did not want to play in South Florida yet we kept the player.

When you see what the Ducks received for Pronger and what the Flames received for Phaneuf and what the panthers received for Luongo and Bouwmeester it is clear that these were mishandled.

Lastly, not much going on because Sexton is in Rochester is not really true because where ever Sexton is located not much is going on.

Jay BOO!!!

would be interesting to see if new managemwnt would welcome Olli back under Deboer

amazing how Olli has always acknowledged his appreciation for the florida fans and boumeester comes right out and insults them yet still some fans love to trash Olli to defend that pitiful GM we used to have in martin

I hope he trips over the blue lines. a lot.

A lot of serious movement with some other teams right now.....and a tumbleweed blows through the halls of our management.....

Kolvachuk just went to the Devils last night. I wish the Panthers would have made a move but he would never have stayed just like Bou.

I looks like the top teams in the east are going to be Devils, Penguins, Caps, and Buffalo. The only team on this top four that the Panthers have beaten is Buffalo and the Devils.

Here's a thought, is it worth the Panthers even making the playoffs in the 7th or 8th spot when they are likely going to play the Penguins and Caps, only to lose in 4 games as they did throughout the season to these teams? If the Panthers are really thinking long term, they should factor this into the equation...


Kittens,Did you think it was worth Edmonton making the playoffs a couple of years ago, when they came in 8th and ended in the finals

did you think it was worth the Jets making the playoffs, before they won 2 playoff games, or the Giants even dress against the Perfect Pats 2 years ago in the superbowl?

Point is the franchise has to make every effort to make it to the playoffs with 1/3 season left; and once in with an elite goalie, you just never know.....Moreover even if they just plya the first round, our young talent would gain so much from that experience...

FLA KITTENS: i've been reading about you constantly moaning about this that and the other all season, and now we have a legit shot of making the playoffs . . . your questioning whether we should even bother?!? oh my days . . .

I don't know about that. Panthers kept Bouwmeester at the trade deadline last season, and we still did not make the playoffs. I'm just saying, perhaps, it would be best for the GM of this organization to think LONG TERM. They gambled last season, and thought short term, look where it go them? No PLAYOFFS, NO BOUW, and a horrible deal for Bouw before the draft. Just saying. If there is going to be accountability in this organization, than they need to think long term...I wonder if Sexton would have made the same deal knowing what happened. I think this organization can get rid of some of these defenseman who only have one year deals with the team as it is doubtful that they would resign with this team. Besides, on the Panther website, they are already setting us up not to make the playoffs. By saying that the Panthers would have to win 2 out of 3 the rest of the season to make the playoffs.

P.S. Last time, the Panthers made it to the playoffs, they were shutout in the first round too...Have not made it back since. They subsequently traded Bure for nothing but a bag of pucks...

As a western Canadian, JayBo has been an utter flop in Calgary. He has cement hands, he can't score and he's gotten burnt too many times. He's still good, but for $7mill no thanks. There are better ways to spend those cap dollars.

He is what he is. An over-rated graceful skating, minute munching, soft spoken, soft player.
He might as well be a ballet star. He's not worth the money he gets, and I'm glad he's not getting it from us.

In all honesty, why do we always cry about players who don't want to be here? Jay, Luongo? Move on.
Let's do something about getting to the playoffs. I don't get the warm fuzzy;s cause Jay is coming back. Who cares.

GR, I may be no 'Brad Pitt", but between the picture of J-Bo and Olli that you posted, it looks like the movei poster for a horror film or a kitchy funhouse!

Wow...13 shots on goal....What an offensive powerhouse!!

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