Jay Bouwmeester, when April is in full effect, usually has to decide on whether he's headed to Latvia, Ukraine or some other far-flung place to represent Canada at the IIHF world championships.
That's because the veteran defenceman has faithfully been among the NHL also-ran teams in nine previous seasons with Florida and Calgary. We don't want to jinx Bouwmeester, lest he confront a banana peel on the sidewalk, but with two regular-season games left, it looks like that ignominious stretch will come to an end.
When St. Louis defeated Colorado on Tuesday, they locked up a Western Conference playoff berth. Bouwmeester, therefore, has officially gained entry to the post-season in his 762th game. He was getting mentioned in such company as 1970s forward Guy Charron (734 regular-season games, never made the playoffs) and former teammate Olli Jokinen (finally made the post-season after 799 career games).
Bouwmeester has played for Canada at the 2004 World Cup, 2006 Olympics and two world championships, but his NHL teams have been miserable. He's been a faithful soldier despite the futility, racking up a notable ironman streak of over 600 consecutive appearances.
The 29-year-old was traded ahead of the deadline from Calgary to St. Louis, providing him with his second opportunity as a professional player to enter the post-season.
The first NHL lockout of this century provided Bouwmeester the first, and then only after a trade. He was dealt from San Antonio to Chicago late in the AHL season of 2004-05, playing 18 games in the playoffs.
It was actually his first post-season activity since midget hockey, as he didn't even make the Western Hockey League post-season over three seasons with Medicine Hat.
Other players have joined Bouwmeester in the NHL post-season parade after a sizeable regular-season sample of more than 300 games. They include Clarke MacArthur of Toronto, and Matt Moulson and Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders. Cal Clutterbuck of Minnesota could join them by week's end.
Take a look in our gallery at some of the players, veterans and rookies, who'll get their first taste of NHL playoff hockey this year.