Today it was announced that Duncan Keith would be unable to play for Team Canada at the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. It was simultaneously announced that Jay Bouwmeester would be Keith’s replacement. I am not joking. Jay Bouwmeester. I immediately did a quick Internet search to confirm my belief that Jay Bouwmeester is in fact a left-handed shot. You know who else are left-hand shot defensemen that are Canadian and have not yet been named to the Canadian team? T.J. Brodie and Mark Giordano. Instead, Hockey Canada’s brain trust chose Jay Bouwmeester. Completely baffling. Let us dig a little deeper.
Us Flames fans are all very familiar with Jay Bouwmeester. He was brought to Calgary to help join Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf and a young Mark Giordano in creating the Flames defensive core, which many had billed as “the best in the league” prior to them taking the ice. That definitely did not come to fruition, the Flames never made the playoffs in the three seasons after acquiring Bouwmeester, trading him to the St. Louis Blues in the fourth year of his five year contract. Bouwmeester was never as bad as people often made him out to be in Calgary, but he did not bring the team what was expected when he was signed to a big deal after his rights were acquired from the Florida Panthers. Regardless, that is all in the past, we are talking about the now.
Fast forward to today and I think you would be hard-pressed to find many people that would think that Jay Bouwmeester would be an upgrade for the Flames’ defensive core over Mark Giordano or T.J. Brodie and probably even Dougie Hamilton. Here are the stat lines for this past season:
Mark Giordano: 82 GP, 21 G, 35 A, 56 P, -5
T.J. Brodie: 70 GP, 6 G, 39 A, 45 P, +4
Jay Bouwmeester: 72 GP, 3 G, 16 A, 19 P, -4
Bouwmeester comes out looking the worst by far in this scenario. Giordano absolutely obliterates him in every offensive category. Brodie also does to a lesser extent, but still more than doubles Bouwmeester’s point totals. +/- is a stat that people are putting less and less stock in, and I am on that wavelength. But still, Brodie’s +/- is 8 higher that Bouwmeester, despite playing on a poor possession team with the worst goaltending in the NHL. Meanwhile, Giordano’s is only 1 lower than Bouwmeester, with all the factors that go along with what it meant to be a Calgary Flame last season. So far, not seeing the reason that Bouwmeester would be a better choice.
Using traditional stats, it is impossible to see why Canada would have selected Bouwmeester over Giordano or Brodie. So, Bouwmeester must be some sort of advanced stats king right? He must be an Anton Stralman type, putting up low numbers offensively but absolutely dominant possession stats. Well, if we take a look at the Hero Charts courtesy of Own The Puck....
As you can see, in both cases, Giordano and Brodie come out looking significantly better than Bouwmeester. Giordano crushes Bouwmeester in every category. Brodie, does the same, even with his low Goals/60.
No matter how you look at it, there is no logical explanation as to why Jay Bouwmeester would be chosen to replace Duncan Keith over T.J. Brodie or Mark Giordano. In fact, there are probably a few other left-hand shots other than Brodie and Giordano that would have better cases to play for Team Canada than JayBo. So what is the deal? Did Giordano and Brodie both decline the invitation? I highly doubt it. Is Hockey Canada overvaluing past international experience? Do they have some sort of cutting edge, statistical view or insight that can somehow create the picture that Jay Bouwmeester is a superior player? Is it perhaps nepotism, as the General Manager of Team Canada also happens to be the General Manager of the St. Louis Blues? We are not privy to such knowledge, but it is quite strange and seems like a suboptimal decision. Will this choice make or break Team Canada’s success? Not likely. But if Canada fails to win, decisions like this will be a part of the reason why. Once again, a complete lack of respect throughout certain spheres of the hockey world for the abilities of Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie.