Francois Beauchemin Welcomed by Ducks
The Anaheim Ducks were looking forward to welcoming the defenseman back to the team after he was reacquired in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs for a package that featured Joffrey Lupul.
"We've had the player before, so we feel comfortable that he can play to a very high level for us," said Ducks coach Randy Carlyle. "He's chewed big minutes in our situation before and we understand that things haven't probably gone the way he anticipated in Toronto. We think that we can provide an environment for him to show the hockey world what kind of defenseman he truly is."
In addition to obtaining Lupul, who has staged a heroic return after missing almost a year with a back injury that required surgery (he had to deal with blood infections as well), the Leafs received defenseman Jake Gardiner, 20, a 2008 first-round draft choice who is still playing collegiate hockey at the University of Wisconsin.
Beauchemin, a 30-year-old native of Sorel, Que., helped the Ducks win the 2007 Stanley Cup. He spent the better part of four seasons with Anaheim before former Ducks general manager Brian Burke lured him to Toronto as a free agent in 2009. Beauchemin still has a year to go on that deal.
"He's looking forward to coming back into Anaheim," said Carlyle. "He knows the way we run things, what our expectations are of him as a player, how we like to play, and he thinks he can make a contribution – and we agree with that."
Beauchemin was due to arrive in Vancouver during the Ducks' game against the Canucks on Wednesday. Known as a stay-at-home defenseman, he has recorded two goals and 10 assists in 54 games with the Leafs. But his most pertinent stat is a respectable minus-four mark – a difficult feat on a Toronto club with one of the worst goals-against records in the NHL.
Despite an abundance of young scoring stars, the Ducks are actually one of the lowest-scoring teams in the Western Conference. Captain Ryan Getzlaf suggested Beauchemin's skills will come in handy during close games down the stretch.
"It's always important," said Getzlaf of extra defensive help. "We're not known for scoring a bunch of goals, that's for sure. Any time you can tighten up the back end a little bit, it's going to help us."
"It's great," added winger George Parros. "We know what he brings to the table. He's tough and he plays real solid D and we're excited to have him."
Center Todd Marchant said Beauchemin's acquisition was a good move, because he will be able to play in several situations.
"He's been here before," said Marchant. "He's a guy that we won with and he's a guy that can play penalty-kill. He can play power play. He can play the right side. He can play the left side. He's tough. He's physical. He can play big minutes. He's done it before and I'm sure that's what we're going to look for from him in the near future."
But the Ducks were also sad to lose Lupul, an extremely popular figure in the dressing room.
"I'm very happy to see (Beauchemin) back, but obviously the coin has both sides," said Teemu Selanne. "Lupul, it's tough, because he's a great guy and a great player and, obviously, it was a tough year with his injury and everything."
Selanne hopes the trade spells a good career move for Lupul, who had five goals and eight assists in 26 games with the Ducks since returning from his lengthy hiatus Dec. 5 against Phoenix.
"Loops, he battled extremely hard to get back off that back injury, had an operation and had numerous infections," said Carlyle. "I felt he was really starting to play to a top level ... But I think that you have to spend something to get something. Obviously, Toronto felt that he was going to fit into their top six. We looked at it and said it's a fit for us with Beauchemin."