MEA CULPA: BIAS AND BOUWMEESTER

Robin Brownlee
July 10 2012 09:17PM

I've always considered Jay Bouwmeester a brutal interview, akin to getting dental work done. And, with good reason. He is one. Bouwmeester is a bad, bad talker. That said, he's a pretty good hockey player.

Buzz around Edmonton these days that the Oilers might be interested in acquiring the man of action and few words from the Calgary Flames – I can't say if it's got legs, but I wouldn’t bet against it – got me thinking if I've let the former color the latter in my assessment of Bouwmeester in the years that he's spent in the NHL. It has. The only question is degree.

Great skater? Absolutely. Decent defender? Better than that. Durable? Like the rock of Gibraltar. Bouwmeester is all of these things -- a defenseman who eats up minutes and can do what he does in the top pairing of any one of the 30 teams in the NHL. The kid can flat-out play.

Despite all that, though, the mention of him has drawn a "Whatever" from me throughout the years he spent in Florida before landing in Calgary, and that was the case again when I first heard this talk about Oiler interest. It's not that his effortless stride or defensive prowess or ability to log big minutes game after game after game is a revelation to me. It's those interviews . . .

Good thing I don’t have to assess talent for a living.

ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

Bouwmeester might be as fine a young man as he is a hockey player, but he will make your eyes roll up in your head during the interview process. I found that out going into the 2002 Entry Draft for a feature I was doing when it was anticipated he'd be selected first overall. Comatose in five minutes, I was.

If there's a record kept for the number of tape recorders and TV cameras clicking off 30 seconds into the scrum of a top-three, blue-chip pick at the Entry Draft, Bouwmeester most certainly holds it.

With reporters looking for a juicy quote or two, something to hang a main story and a sidebar on – we thought that would be a lock after the wheeling and dealing that was done so Columbus could get Rick Nash, landing Bouwmeester in Florida -- eyes were glazing over inside 15 seconds. Just brutal – all of us forgetting he was a teenager.

A few years later, during the 2004-05 lockout season, the Edmonton Sun decided I'd cover the AHL Road Runners home and away, giving the team real big league coverage. They had pages to fill, so what the hell. I ended up in San Antonio, where Bouwmeester was playing for the Rampage.

Bouwmeester was an established NHL player by then. Older and wiser in the ways of the world, he'd be more comfortable talking to reporters then, right? Plus, with an Edmonton reporter making the trip all the way to the Alamo to talk to an Edmonton player about being relegated to scrub duty in the minors, he'd spin gold for sure. Uh, no. Bomb-ola. Same old, same old.

THE BOTTOM LINE

None of the above changes the fact Bouwmeester is a damn good player, even if he's a tad overpaid for my liking (based primarily on his points totals), but I've got to admit it did, and still does, impact my perception of him. When your job hinges in part on the gift of gab any given athlete possesses and a guy has no verbal game, it happens. Doesn't make it right. That's just the way it is.

Like I said, I don't know for sure if or to what degree the Oilers actually have an interest in Bouwmeester, or if he'd waive his no-trade clause in the instance that GM Jay Feaster asked him about moving up the road to Edmonton. We'll see how, or if, that plays out.

What I do know, after taking time to reflect, is that what Bouwmeester does on the ice matters a helluva lot more than what he says when media types come calling on him in the dressing room. The same goes for any player when you get right down to it. Big talker? Fine. Big-time player?

Here's hoping the Oilers are better at separating one from the other than I've been over the years when it comes to Bouwmeester, should Steve Tambellini and Feaster ever start talking about making a deal.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 The Soup Fascist
July 11 2012, 08:50PM
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... As should I.

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#102 old hippy
July 11 2012, 09:21PM
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First of all, I've been banging the drum for a trade to acquire Bouwmeester for months. In my scenario, though, we ship Horcoff south, trading bad contract for bad contract. I figure Horcoff is a decent, legitimate 3rd line center, and in a pinch can log 2nd line minutes. He's physical and takes a lot of face offs. There are a lot of guys bigger, tougher, and score more often, but they make bigger money. I figure he's worth about $3m cap hit. ($3m X 23 roster players = $69m so about average salary cap hit). J Bo logs a lot of tough minutes and is definitely a better D than Horcoff is as a C. I put his earned cap hit at around $4.5m to $5m. Horcoff has three years left. J Bo has two years left. Horcoff is a $2.5m overpay, J Bo a little under $2m overpay. Edmonton would need to send prospect/draft pick the other way to make up the difference. Calgary has one of the weakest prospect pools in the NHL (as per capgeek). I think J Bo would be a very calming presence on the Oilers back end, and a good mentor.Calgary would get a tough center who can take a lot of face-offs plus some youth and potential.

I wouldn't want him here longer than his two year term, as I think we will easily replace him by then.

This is the only way I would do this deal. J Bo would only be here as a stop gap to allow Marancin and Klefbom to spend time developing their game.

As for how this would affect the salary cap structure, it wouldn't. Give your toque a spin, people. Neither an arbitrator nor an agent would say "well if Bouwmeester is worth $6.78m my guy is worth $11m". Salary comparisons are like averages. You throw out the top ridiculous and the bottom underpay and go from there. Hall will re-up for whatever an RFA 22 year old left winger who scores 30 goals a season, will get. Hemskey's contract, Horcoff's contract, or hypothetically J Bo's contract, will not enter in to the conversation. That's not the way it works.

As for "oil domination to follow"....it annoys me, because there is an ignorant 'nucks fan(yeah I know, redundant) that posts that on TSN all the time. That said....fill your boots. It's a free country.

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#103 old hippy
July 11 2012, 09:30PM
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OOPS. I meant to say Calgary has one of the weakest prospect pools (AS PER HOCKEY'S FUTURE) Doh! Stupid brain!

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#104 oldhippy
July 11 2012, 09:38PM
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As for Brownlee moderating as he see's fit? Get a grip. I used to go on TSN, but that has got to be a gong show. It seems like every third poster is a twelve year old girl. It's stupid. I enjoy Nation because I can actually argue HOCKEY, and not the merits of one city over another. I would hate to see this blog turn in to mindless stupidity. As long as we all stick to hockey talk, there should be no problem. No Austin 3:16, no 'Oil90. I can put up with DFS, because he makes me laugh and he does, occasionaly have a point.

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#105 boxman
July 11 2012, 09:45PM
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First off Robin speaks his mind and isn't talking trash and getting personal while hiding by a cloak of anonymity. This means you Oscar. Next point is this is absolutely not censorship as Robin is in no way saying you can't go start your own blogs but is just asking you to wipe your feet before entering his house. If that is too much to ask than perhaps your parents would like a redo. Now on to hockey. I believe the best comment made was to be careful about setting a precedent about over paying a temporary player just because we can "now" as it will be used against "us" when dealing with our core players. Peace out.

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#106 oldhippy
July 11 2012, 10:41PM
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@boxman Agree 100% with first part. Disagree with the precedent opinion. I can neither see an arbitrator nor an agent use Horcoff's wage to point ratio as a way to negotiate Hall's salary. Nor would they bring up Scott Gomez's wage to point production, in Montreal. These people aren't children. They understand the way the cap works. I think most players who like the situation they are playing in, will look for a contract based on a percentage of the cap appropriate to their role on their team.

I would really like to see a rational, fan based debate on what the salaries for the core players will be, three years out. Who do you see as the most valuable. Who would be the hardest to replace. Within the current $70m cap, what would you pay a 23 year old Hall or Eberle.

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#107 Oscar Murchie
July 11 2012, 10:47PM
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My name is Oscar Murchie of Camrose. Is that clear enough for you or still anonymous, boxman?

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#108 boxman
July 11 2012, 11:02PM
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@oldhippy Good points but I like the idea that you pay your top players and then the rest get paid accordingly. Agents do use apple vs apple comparisons but this doesn't mean the players don't see an obvious injustice and feel resentment. One thing I am sure we can agree on is things are definitely getting interesting and there is hope in the air. I believe even DSF is struggling with feelings of optimism and is just struggling to express them.

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#109 boxman
July 11 2012, 11:15PM
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My guess was Oscar the grouch. Murchie seems clear enough but the last name " of Camrose" is unusual.

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#110 The Soup Fascist
July 11 2012, 11:20PM
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My concern is why some guys like JBo lose at every level and other guys like Mike Richards win at every level. Good / bad luck ? Not sure I want to spend 6 plus Mil to find out.

I get his skill. Just seems to have a black cloud hanging over him.

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#111 mayorpoop
July 12 2012, 10:05AM
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@boxman.

i'm sure you make some legitmate points but i just can't find any. just to clarify it's ok to be anonymous as long your are defending someone. right "boxman"? yeah my name is mayorpoop and that's all you get and that's all that's required. same goes for oscar no matter what side of the coin he may be on.

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#112 Boxman
July 12 2012, 12:00PM
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@mayorpoop. I could care less who you or Oscar are. Oscar was making personal comments as opposed to speaking to an issue and you invoke the sponsors as if you are being oppressed. Get over yourself and see if you can someone to explain the concepts of freedom of speech and respect.

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#113 mayorpoop
July 12 2012, 12:06PM
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10-4 good buddy :)

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#114 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
July 12 2012, 12:16PM
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speaking of numbers.....only 64 sleeps till training camp.

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#115 Rama Lama
July 12 2012, 04:48PM
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I would love to see the Oilers taking Bouwmeester.........but there is no way in hell that Feester is stupid enough to take the Horcoff contract in return as some have suggested.

Given that Feester is somewhat hampered by his ownership and continously drinking their koolaide, he is not a complete moron.

No on will take Horcoff but he is a good fourth line centre for our team. I just pray to the hockey gods that Krueger does not try and make Horcoff and Belenger something they are not.............top six players.

Oh please let there be a hockey god who loves us!

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#116 pelhem grenville
July 13 2012, 08:36AM
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ramalama said:...Oh please let there be a hockey god who loves us!...

ummmm...maybe the last THREE FIRST OVERALL DRAFT PICKS in a row might give you some faith that there are hockeys gods ...

ramalama...ur not a dingdong...but

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