I've made it no secret that I love me some Francois Beauchemin. I'm really happy that he's getting some recognition for the special year that he's having. A few weeks ago, Derek made the (unlikely) case for him as a Norris Trophy candidate. Beauch has cracked the top five of Puck Daddy's (early) Awards Watch, on a recent episode of the Marek vs. Wyshynski podcast Wysh even called him the most underrated defenseman in the league. And today, Curtis Zupke (formerly of the OC Register) wrote a piece for NHL.com spotlighting Beauch's hot start.
The quote from Zupke's article that really caught my eye was from GM Bob Murray:
"We're not even halfway through the season, I think it's totally ridiculous for anybody to talk about awards ... that irritates me to hell. It's not fair to the player."
This from the man who lobbied for Beauchemin to be included in the Fedorov deal, then refused to even negotiate with him in the summer of 2009 and then brought his (above?) market value contract back at the expense of one of the team's top prospects. Their relationship has more ups and downs than Ross and Rachel.
It's reasonable to try and unload pressure from Beauch's shoulders at the mid way point of the season, but it's also somewhat of a departure from the all out media blitz that drove Corey Perry to the Hart Trophy two seasons ago. And if Beauch is going to get any kind of serious consideration for an award like that, he'll need all the help he can get.
It does help that he's becoming a more offensively minded player. During power plays and sometimes 5-on-5 you can find him in the slot and even in the crease these days, and not just in the Ducks' zone. But he's never going to be an Erik Karlson or even Lubomir Visnovsky, who was passed over for a nomination two years ago when he lead the league in scoring from the blueline in Anaheim. Beauch already has 13 points on the season, last year he had 22 and the year before (split between the Leafs and Ducks) he only had 17 in 81 games, and therein lies the rub.
I hate to be the one shouting East Coast Bias, but I highly doubt Beauch will ever get the credit that he's due nationally because of people with long memories in Toronto. For Christ's sake, during the lockout Chris Lund of the Score (at the time) listed him as the Duck most likely to be bought out at the end of the season. While that was a while ago, and patently false, it just goes to show how a few bad seasons in the Centre of the Hockey Universe can cast a shadow on a player's reputation. Right Larry Murphy?
But..... Considering that Anaheim is Beauch's "Happy Place," as Teemu once called it, and he didn't do so hot under the microscope of Toronto and the chances are about a zillion to one that his style of play gets recognized, maybe it is best to deflect attention the way Murray (and Boudreau, and Beauch himself) did in the NHL.com piece.
What say you, gentle reader? Is it high time someone advocated for a defensive defenseman playing in California, or better to just fly under the radar and enjoy a fantastic season to ourselves?