For most people, “nothing” is the Pavlovian response to the question, “what are you doing?” But when Jay Bouwmeester says he’s doing “absolutely nothing,” he means it.
For at least the next ten days, following offseason hip surgery, the Panthers star defenseman will be confined to the couch in his childhood home in Edmonton. With a brace on his leg and crutches by his side, Bouwmeester can’t so much as drive a car, let alone partake in the usual gamut of offseason activities.
There’s not a thing on this planet that can slow Bouwmeester down on the ice, but this surgery has the fleet-footed blueliner twiddling his thumbs.
“It’s kind of putting a damper on things,” Bouwmeester says. “Especially my golf game.”
On Tuesday, May 22, Bouwmeester was in the ski resort town of Vail, Colo. for hip surgery. He was also in good company, as Islanders goalie Rick DiPietro had a similar surgery done the week earlier and Chicago Blackhawks netminder Patrick Lalime was scheduled to come in the week following.
“I guess it’s a pretty common thing for goalies,” Bouwmeester says. “I didn’t even really feel it until the end of the year. And even then I didn’t think it was anything more than a hip flexor or something like that.”
After surgery, Bouwmeester spent two days in Colorado doing basic physical rehab. And now he is little more than a lump on the couch, save for the series of range of motion exercises he does on a daily basis.
“I can’t really put any weight on it right now,” he says. “And the brace won’t let me move my leg past 90-degrees. It’s pretty boring right now, but some of the Oilers guys are around working out so it’s not horrible. ”
Once he’s out of the brace, though, Bouwmeester says, “I plan to get back to working out as soon as I can.”
Like many of his teammates, such as Nathan Horton and Stephen Weiss
, Bouwmeester is looking forward to next season and says that to get off to the “better start” the Panthers need, everyone needs to start preparing now.
Other than going to Hawaii for his sister Jill’s wedding in August, Bouwmeester plans to concentrate mostly on conditioning and rehabbing. Once he’s cleared, after about six weeks, he’ll start doing some light skating at local rinks in Edmonton, possibly with former Panthers goalie Jamie McLennan who often organizes skates and scrimmages in the area.
Then, later in the summer, he’ll attend the camp of New York Rangers assistant coach Perry Pearn, who gets NHL players like Jarome Iginla, Daymond Langkow and others together for a couple weeks of pre-training camp practice and scrimmaging.
But until then, Bouwmeester is stuck on neutral, a frustrating situation for someone who is used to playing hockey in the fast lane.