|Thomas Beauregard worked hard in the QMJHL and ECHL so he can make the jump this season to the NHL with the Canadiens.|
Sitting out that season helped Beauregard evaluate his commitment to hockey. His conclusion? He loved the game and he poured all his effort into what turned out to be his final two QMJHL seasons with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Beauregard had 46 goals and 42 assists in his fourth QMJHL season and then 71 goals and 53 assists in his over-age season.
Beauregard led the QMJHL with those 71 goals and finished eighth in the league with a plus-29 rating. In addition to his 117 goals in those two seasons, he also had 18 goals and 10 assists in 30 playoff games.
Beauregard signed with the Montreal Canadiens and was assigned last season to the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones. He had 31 goals and 34 assists in 59 games and then had nine goals and seven assists in 19 playoff games while leading the Cyclones to the Kelly Cup.
Beauregard attended July's prospect development camp with the goal of proving to the Canadiens that he can make the jump this season to the NHL.
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Beauregard was a little unsettled at development camp last summer, but was much more comfortable this year.
"I remember everything about it, especially my first time through the dressing room door," he said. “This is a great organization with a great history. I saw the plaques to all the great players who have been here. For a young player, that's unbelievable.
"I grew up in Montreal and my family was big fans of the Canadiens. We would go 10-15 times a year and if we couldn't go, the games were on television. Canadiens games were a big deal in my family."
Beauregard was only 7 when the Canadiens won their most recent Stanley Cup in 1993 but he remembers a lot of details about the playoffs that year.
"I remember Patrick Roy playing so great in the Final," he said. "I can remember every player on that team, they were so close to the fans. Eric Desjardins had a great year too and stepped up his game in the playoffs. People went crazy after they won, one big party although some people tore up the city. Mostly, it was great fun and everyone was into it. "
Beauregard was asked if he modeled his game after one of his heroes and he had an interesting answer.
"I have no inspirations," he said. "They are who they are and I am who I am. No one is a look-alike on the ice. Everyone has their own style. I have my own style and I want to improve myself. When I look at players like Saku Koivu and Alex Kovalev working hard and I know how good they are already, I want to work hard and improve myself. That's inspirational."
Beauregard matured in his five Titan seasons and he looks back fondly at playing with such good players as Patrice Bergeron, Bruno Gervais, Janis Sprukts, Mathieu Carle, and the player whose offensive records he would break, Olivier Filion.
"My last year there, everyone was following me and talking about me because I was on a pace to score 90 goals, at one point. Wherever I went, people were looking at me, wanting to congratulate me or bring their kids to meet me. Now, all that is behind me. It's done and I just want to look forward. I know I have a lot of work to do."
Beauregard has worked hard in recent seasons. He's added weight and now tips the scales at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds. He's a better skater and plays a much better two-way game. His plus-29 in his final QMJHL season showed how far he had come in learning his defensive responsibilities.
"I had to get better because I want to play hockey," Beauregard said. "I know I did great in juniors and that it was better for me to start my career in Cincinnati. Wherever they want me to go this year, I'll go and do my best because my dream is to play in the NHL and I will achieve it. I'm only 22 now and I have time. I just don't want to have any regrets at the end of my career."
Beauregard said it's too early to talk to his coaches or management about his assignment this fall but he has been getting good vibes.
"I haven't talked too much to coach (Guy) Carbonneau, but I know I made a good impression last year because he dressed me for two exhibition games," Beauregard said. "He told me he knew I was that guy that scored 71 goals. It's always fun to hear that from the head coach. I worked hard at training camp and made a good impression."
The undrafted Beauregard could feel overwhelmed in a room with first-round draft picks and at least one future Hall of Famer, but he feels he belongs.
"True, I wasn't drafted, but I can't control that," he said. "People get paid to do that work and I have no argument with them. I can't control what they do. What I can control is my work ethic and how I play the game. I am part of the Montreal Canadiens' organization and I am totally forgetting that I wasn't drafted.
"I will continue to show people what I can do, whether it's in Montreal, Hamilton or Cincinnati. I came here to play here."