Signed as a free agent by the Colorado Avalanche on July 1, 2015, Francois Beauchemin has appeared in 673 career NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets, Anaheim Ducks and Toronto Maple Leafs. Selected by Montreal in the third round (75th overall) of the 1998 Entry Draft, the 6-foot-1, 208-pound defenseman has recorded 219 points (60 goals, 159 assists), a plus-23 rating and 394 penalty minutes during his time in the league. Beauchemin, who won a Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2006-07, has also skated in 97 career playoff games, registering 39 points (10 goals, 29 assists).
Q: When did you discover your love for hockey?
A: It came when I was really young. I started skating at the age of three. I was also a huge Montreal Canadiens fan. I even got drafted by them in 1998, so my whole youth was watching hockey games, especially on Saturday nights, Hockey Night in Canada. That was just a big thing with my family.
|Francois Beauchemin |
Q: What was it like for you to be drafted by the team you grew up watching, especially a team like Montreal?
A: That was just a dream come true. I grew up in a small town. My home town is Sorel, Quebec, a city of 35,000 people. It is really small. When I was drafted by them, my whole family was there and we were all excited for the draft. The draft was in Buffalo, New York, so they were all able to make the drive there. It was a special moment.
Q: Was it your dream as a kid to play for the Canadiens?
A: Yeah. I think if you ask any French Canadian guy growing up around Montreal city, it’s everybody’s dream. It would be like somebody growing up here in Denver, Colorado, and then being drafted by the Avalanche. It would be the exact same thing. So, like I said I was really excited and got the chance to play a game with the Canadiens before moving on to Columbus. I will always remember that one game in the back of my head.
Q: It took a while for you to permanently crack an NHL lineup. Are there things that you learned from that experience, from taking time to work into the league?
A: I think it’s all the experience that you go through, and then once you make it you want to stay up here. You want to do all the sacrifices and work that you need to do to make sure you don’t go back down to the to the AHL. I played five years there. We had a lot of bus rides, for hours and days, but I think that was good for myself to be a better person, a better hockey player. But once I made it, I knew I had to work hard to stay here.
Q: You are a top-minutes type of player, you play a lot of minutes. How does that come about? Is that something that you grow into, you work into?
A: Yeah. That is something I have always done. I have always liked the challenge of shutting down the other team’s top lines. It has always been my game, ever since I made it to the NHL. It’s just something I like to do. I’m a really competitive guy and that’s one of my jobs.
Q: Some defensemen keep track of plus/minus. Do you feel like it’s a good indicator of how you are playing? I know there is a debate about how it gauges performance.
A: I’m not saying it’s a good stat, but you always want to be in the plus, obviously. Some nights you’re going to end up minus-3 by just stepping on the ice, getting scored against. There are things that you don’t control all the time, but if you finish minus-35 there are certainly things that you don’t do well and you will have to improve on that. I know a lot of people look at that stat and say ‘oh, he’s struggling. He’s minus-5, minus-6.’ But you have to look at the overall game and the team and how they do.
Q: Are there stats that you watch as a defensemen, or is it all about your performance and just how you do shift-to-shift, game-to-game?
A: It’s more shift-to-shift and game-to-game. I don’t really look at those numbers very much. I approach every game the same way and I look at who I am playing against and who I have to shut down. If I don’t play well one night, I’ll make sure I regroup and get ready for the next one.
Q: What was appealing about signing with Colorado? What puts the club above some other location?
A: The team, and obviously having the chance to work with Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic and having a great group of guys, both older and younger. I have played a lot against Jarome Iginla. We’ve had lots of battles together. So it was going to be a good thing to finally have the chance to play together. If you look at all the young guys on the team, it’s a good challenge. There’s a lot of talent here.
Q: How is your family adjusting to the move out here? Have you explored at all?
A: Not all of it obviously, we’ve only been here three weeks. But moving is a lot of work. Moving into a new house, unloading all the boxes. The kids went to their new school and are starting sports and all that. We did have a chance to go up to Vail on Labor Day weekend. It was beautiful and we really liked it. That’s something that we are looking forward to, exploring a different part of the world.
Q: Did you guys do anything fun this summer away from the rink and the move?
A: We go out fishing every once and a while on weekends back home. That’s pretty much it. A lot of workouts for myself, getting ready. We do have a family vacation in Old Orchard Beach in Maine. We just drive up there with the kids and go for a week and then get back.
Q: Do you have a pregame routine that you go through?
A: I did, yeah. I did. I’m going to have to readjust obviously with the move, but just a normal routine like everyone else. I get up for a cup of coffee and go for morning skate and then I used to always go to the same restaurant for a pregame meal. I’ll have to find a new one here obviously, but there some guys have already told me where they go, to a little Italian spot for chicken and pasta. I eat pretty much the same meal every game day: chicken and pasta with broccoli and carrots. Simple things. I usually show up two hours and five minutes before game time and go through my routine.
Q: What about a favorite tv show, or a favorite movie?
A: My wife and I used to watch a lot of The Voice. That’s pretty funny. I haven’t seen a movie in a while, the kids are really busy. But The Voice is on the calendar every Monday.