Making the transition from forward to defense is certainly no easy task on any level.
But one could only imagine the heartfelt intentions former defenseman and four-time Stanley Cup winner Jeff Beukeboom
had in store when he suggested his son, Brock, make such a swap.
Adding to the pressure was the fact the younger Beukeboom would be switching positions just prior to his initial season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.
In 2007-08, Beukeboom played for the Central Ontario AAA Wolves and was selected No. 18 by the Greyhounds during the 2008 OHL priority draft.
"It was January of my OHL draft year," Beukeboom told NHL.com. "My dad was the one. He had been trying to get me back there for a couple of years. I figured if it was going to make me a better player in the future and present more opportunities for myself to eventually reach the NHL, then I'll try it out."
Not surprisingly, Beukeboom's new role became second nature to him. He scored 2 goals and added 9 assists with 26 penalty minutes in 55 games for the Greyhounds in 2008-09. He'd represent Canada Ontario in the World U-17 Challenge, notching 1 assist with six penalty minutes in six games. Last season, the 6-foot-1, 196-pound Beukeboom connected for 7 goals and 19 assists with 64 PIM. He also played for Team Cherry at the 2010 CHL Top Prospects Game.
"Playing my first season on defense happened to be my first year in the OHL and that wasn't a very easy feat for a 16-year-old," Beukeboom said. "To go into that league with 19 and 20 year-olds was tough, but I felt I had a very good rookie campaign and I continued to grow my second year. I just have to keep building off of that."
Beukeboom, drafted in the third round (No. 63) by the Tampa Bay Lightning
at the 2010 Entry Draft, will enter his third season with the Greyhounds as the team's captain.
"I took a big step last year and continued to grow on and off the ice, and there's a lot more for me to learn, but I was very satisfied with my second year," Beukeboom said. "I've got to keep building up in my third OHL season; (Sault Ste. Marie) has been second to none and it's a great opportunity for me to grow as a hockey player.
"It's every kid's dream to make the NHL team, but at the same time I have to be realistic with myself and I need to go back to junior and get those lessons from my coaches and my dad. I just have to keep developing as a person, developing in junior and hopefully, one day, I'll be able to wear the lightning bolt on my jersey. (Tampa) picked me and now it's my turn give back to them, since they went on a limb to pick me when they did."
During the Traverse City NHL Prospects Tournament in September, Beukeboom performed admirably for the Lightning prospects. While he didn't register a point, he did notch five shots on net and finished a plus-4 in four games.
"For an 18-year-old, Brock makes some mistakes out there, but he has great poise and keeps his game really simple," said Tampa Bay's player development consultant, Steve Thomas
. "He keeps everything in front and has a good first pass. He's a stay-at-home type, make-no-mistake kind of defenseman."
It doesn't hurt that Beukeboom also has the hockey pedigree to boot. Jeff Beukeboom
played 13 NHL seasons, winning three Cups in Edmonton (1987, '88, '90) and one with the New York Rangers
"It's a frame of reference," Tampa General Manager Steve Yzerman
said. "Brock's dad was a committed professional hockey player who worked hard and was a character guy. That has a great impact on the boy they raise."
Beukeboom, regarded as a two-way performer with a steady game, can still recall the days when he'd join his dad at an NHL practice.
"When he was playing, it was every kids' dream," he said. "I was 5 or 6 years old and always going to the rink on Saturday morning with him to a practice facility. I'd get to do whatever I wanted to do. If you wanted to hang out with the trainer or some of the players, you could. There were other times when I could skate and it was great. That's when it really opened my eyes that I wanted to play hockey. I loved the game and wanted to make a profession out of it."
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale