Veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester used the word "exciting" several times Tuesday when discussing the trade that brought him from the Calgary Flames to the St. Louis Blues.
"At this point in my career, this move is really exciting," said the 29-year-old Bouwmeester, who came from the Flames in exchange for defense prospect Mark Cundari, goaltending prospect Reto Berra and a conditional first-round pick." I'm going to a team that's got a solid young core of players, they're real talented and big and can skate.
"I know from playing against them they're a hard team to play against --and it's a team that wants to get in the playoffs and have some success. Whenever you walk into a situation like that, that's all you can ask for."
Bouwmeester said he hopes to join the Blues on Wednesday and make his debut Thursday against Chicago. His streak of playing in 621 straight games-- the longest ironman streak in the NHL -- was not broken Monday night since the Blues made the deal before the Flames game began.
He has never played in an NHL playoff game during 10 seasons the Flames and Florida Panthers. Florida made him the third overall pick in the 2002 NHL Draft.
He agreed to waive his no-trade clause because he believes the Blues can qualify for the postseason and make some noise when they get there.
Despite being in a tight playoff race, the Blues added a top-pair defenseman without giving up a major piece off their own roster.
In the span of three days, they completely overhauled the left side of their defense -- and added size and strength -- by trading for veterans Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold.
"I'm at the point of my career where that's what I'm after," Bouwmeester said. "I just want to be part of something that gives you a chance to win. It was a bit of a process, but all along St. Louis was a team in the back of my mind that I thought would be a pretty good fit."
Bouwmeester has another year left on a contract that will pay him $6.68 million next season. He signed a five-year, $33.4 million deal with the Flames in 2009.
Coveted by the Blues for nearly a year because of their need for help on left defense, he fills an instant hole. He also brings the experience of facing the other team's best players on a nightly basis.
Bouwmeester spoke with Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong, coach Ken Hitchcock and defenseman Barret Jackman on Monday night after the trade.
He basically got the same message from all of them.
"They believe in the team and believe that they can win the games necessary to get into the playoffs and go from there," Bouwmeester said. "Coming into a situation like that, where that's what they're trying to, it's exciting because everyone wants to be successful."
Bouwmeester has played with and against Jackman at the junior level and also played with Kris Russell on Team Canada.
Bouwmeester played under Hitchcock with Team Canada at the 2006 Winter Olympics and at the World Championships.
"He's a smart guy, he's got that reputation for a reason," Bouwmeester said. "He's a good coach. He demands a lot from his players, but as a player you want that. You want a guy that's going to help you get better."
Bouwmeester noticed the Blues' turnaround last season after Hitchcock came on board.
"When he came in they went on a pretty big roll and ended up as one of the top teams in the league," he said.
The Flames approached Bouwmeester, captain Jarome Iginla and other veterans several weeks ago about the possibility they could be traded.
"This is a different situation than in Calgary," Bouwmeester said. "They'd just traded Jarome, whose been here forever. You saw the direction it was going and personally, I want to get in the playoffs and have some success.
"To go from a team that's doing a little bit of a rebuild now to one that's on the upswing and has a lot of good players in the nucleus...it's exciting for me to be able to come in and hopefully fit in."
Bouwmeester pondered a career that began with the struggling Panthers, then continued with a Flames team that ended up dealing its biggest stars.
"It was pretty exciting time when I signed (with Calgary), the team looked like they were going to be pretty good," he said. "Some things changed and we really never ended up having the success that anyone would have wanted.
"I'm at the point where I haven't played any playoffs and that's really the No. 1 priority for me, to get in the playoffs and for the team to have some success."