Jay Bouwmeester is one of those never-did guys.
He never did become a dominant player in the National Hockey League. Never did win the Norris Trophy (or even finish in the top-10 in balloting), never did turn into a driver of offence from the blue line, never did win a Stanley Cup. At least not yet.
What Bouwmeester did do was adapt and evolve. He stopped worrying about what others thought he should do and instead embraced what he could do consistently. And he never lost those beautiful wheels, that smooth, long skating stride that made him a third-overall draft pick in 2002 and was the primary reason for all those starry projections for him.
What Bouwmeester did do was keep playing, and now, at age 35 and after 16 seasons and 1,184 NHL games, the defenceman from Edmonton is two wins away from getting his first chance to play for the Stanley Cup.
As the St. Louis Blues frantically defended their 2-1 lead Friday against the San Jose Sharks, Bouwmeester was on the ice at the end to help his team even the Western Conference Final after four games.
That’s what shutdown guys do: defend.