A big, fast defenseman who can skate the puck out of his zone, kill penalties, join the power play, score points, and play all night long.
Oh, and he’s only 24.
Since day one, Bouwmeester has been a steady presence on the Panther blue line and one of the team’s most valuable players. The 6-4, 214-pound Bouwmeester leads all defensemen with 9 goals and 19 points. More importantly, on a team that has had as many as four defensemen on the sidelines with injuries, Bouwmeester is logging heroic amounts of ice time. He’s currently ranked first in the league, just ahead of Red Wings all-star defenseman Niklas Lindstrom in ice-time per game, averaging 27:22.
Bouwmeester took time recently to answer questions from fans at FloridaPanthers.comFrom Matt Rostck:
If you could be paired with any defenseman from the past, who would it be?Bouwmeester:
“Not going back to Bobby Orr and those guys, growing up I liked Ray Bourque. He was just a guy I grew up watching. Another guy was Paul Coffey. (Niklas) Lidstrom and Rob Blake. Those guys are still playing, but those are the guys I grew up watching. If it was a retired guy, it would be Ray Bourque. My dad was a big Bruins fan and Bobby Orr fan. He always talked about how good he was. But sometimes it’s hard to get an appreciation unless you saw it.”From Lasse Almgren in Sweden:
What’s your impression of Magnus Johansson?Bouwmeester:
“He’s good. He stepped right in and helped us with the offense and the power play. He moves the puck well, he’s a smart player, and it’s good to have him.”From James Roper:
Could you comment on the play of Shawn Matthias
“I knew he was a good player from (training) camp, but for a guy to just come out of junior like that and be able to step in and play a regular shift and, you know, be one of the best players out there, it speaks well of him. He has a bright future. You can tell with a lot of guys the way they do things out there. He’s smart, sees the ice real well, and has a big body that he uses well. And he’s only going to get bigger and stronger. It’s good to have him.” From Greg Hewitt:
Being a native of Canada, what do you think of the lifestyle in South Florida?Bouwmeester:
“It’s different, but I’ve been down here for five years now so you get used to it. Everyone likes visiting to get out of the cold. There’s a lot worse places you can be when it’s cold and snowy. It’s different. I kind of miss the seasons. I never really minded the colder weather.”From Brendan Marchinko of Saskatchewan:
How does one, with the time consuming schedule, stay focused and keep the game fresh throughout the season?
“It is a long year. Everyone goes through the ups and downs when everything might not being going well for yourself or the team. You know, that’s the stress that comes with any job. The thing is you have to realize you’re pretty lucky to be doing what you’re doing. You’re playing a game for a living. A lot of people don’t have that luxury. I think if you keep that in mind it makes all those other things not seem so bad. You know, everyone enjoys success. But with the year being so long, you can’t get too high at certain points and, at the same time, the good thing about any sport as a job is that you have a chance to redeem yourself pretty quickly. So you keep that in mind and focus on the job at hand.From Lisa:
Will Ferrell or Adam Sandler?Bouwmeester:
“I like Adam Sandler. He likes hockey. He’s a hockey guy.”From Arman:
How does it feel to be the defenseman that everyone looks up to play well? How have you handled the pressure?Bouwmeester:
“For me, when I first came here being a high draft pick, there’s expectations. When I came to my first camp, I just wanted to make the team and play in the NHL. You learn pretty quickly there’s things you have to do to stay at this level. You have to continue to improve, and that’s the biggest thing. There’s always room for improvement. No matter what the outside expectations, the pressures you put on yourself to do well, you just kind of deal with it.
“It’s nothing unfamiliar now. I dealt with it a little in juniors. That’s kind of a good transition, I guess. You get a little taste of how it’s a business. But, really, you don’t worry about it too much. You just have to focus on what you have to do.”
From Elizabeth Sullivan:
Wondering if you’re negotiating a new contract?Bouwmeester:
“Well, right now, we still have a contract here and I think we won’t worry about that until the end of the year.”
From Zach Kennedy of West Palm Beach:
Being an NHL leader in ice time, what do you have to do for conditioning on and off the ice?Bouwmeester:
“Well, this time of year it’s making sure you get some rest. In the summer, everyone works out. Coming into a year, by now I know I’m going to be playing a lot so it’s important to be in good shape. A lot of that work you do in the summer? Maybe not the start of the year, but toward the end of the year it starts to pay off. Throughout the year, you just try to take care of yourself, maybe not try to overdue it sometime. It’s important to get your rest, but also not to get totally out of whack.”From Marie-Eve:
Are you superstitious or have any pre-game rituals?Bouwmeester:
“Nothing real superstitious. I think everyone has their routine they follow, but nothing specific. Routine might be part of superstition, but I think it’s more of getting yourself in a routine so it’s more natural getting ready.”From Catskillbolts:
What’s your favorite music. Any music you listen to before games?Bouwmeester:
“There’s always music in the locker room. Not always the best music, but…I like lots of different music. More rock ‘n roll and country stuff. I’m not a big rap fan. My favorite band would be Pearl Jam and I like George Strait.”