How Theo Fleury Helped Newcomer Jay Bouwmeester Transition to the Calgary Flames

Chris SmallContributor IOctober 2, 2009

CALGARY, CANADA - APRIL 27:   Former Calgary Flame Theoren Fluery applauds during the Flame's victory over the Detroit Red Wings during game three of their NHL Western Conference Semifinal playoff game at the Pengrowth Saddledome on April 27, 2004 in Calgary, Canada. Calgary defeated Detroit 3-2 and lead the series 2-1. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Now that Theoren Fleury's days of playing hockey are behind him, he will take some time to contemplate his future as the Flames roll head-on into the regular season. 

Someone whose future needs no contemplation is Flames newcomer Jay Bouwmeester. The heralded defenseman landed a five-year, $33 million contract and played more than anyone in his regular season debut.

He might not know it, but Fleury had a huge role in his transition to the Flames.

The news on June 1 was that Bouwmeesterwho played for the Florida Pantherswas being traded to Calgary. Days later, he received a fair contract from GM Darryl Sutter. It was front page news, and every paper in Canada reported the trade in the sports section.

Jay Bouwmeester was coming home to Alberta. 

It was sure to be a media circus; the soft-spoken Bouwmeester, not accustomed to a big hockey market, was going to be surrounded by hordes of media and fans. That is, until a specific former Flame rekindled his spark for the game. 

Theoren Fleury, cleared by the NHL and adopted back into the Flames organization, was going to make an attempt to revive his career. Now the media circus shifted. 

Bouwmeester was no longer the center of attention; he was able to focus on the game and the new system that all players on the Flames were learning with Brent Sutter behind the bench. He played quietly and subtly, as any shutdown defenseman should, and was able to learn his new team and teammates.

With Fleury being cut near the end of the preseason, the focus shifted back to Bouwmeester, but he had already melded into the team and led Calgary's defense to victory against the Canucks in the season openera victory that has not come often in years past.

Chris Smallman