Sunday Opinion: Ducks Great Francois Beauchemin Is Done

DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 13: Francois Beauchemin
DETROIT, MI - FEBRUARY 13: Francois Beauchemin /

Francois Beauchemin has had great runs with the Anaheim Ducks throughout his career.  Those days are behind him as his career is over now.

Beauchemin’s Career

The Mighty Ducks acquired Francois Beauchemin in a 2005 trade. At the time, it seemed like Anaheim was just trying to get rid of Sergei Fedorov. But Beauch became a mainstay along Anaheim’s blue line pretty quickly. He was Scott Niedermayer’s even-strength partner during the Cup run in 2007. He even scored four goals that postseason. Who can forget the insurance goal he scored in clinching game 5? But Beauch’s main talents were defense and nastiness. He was the reason Niedermayer could freewheel all over the ice.

Beauch was tough too. Do you remember what happened in 2008? He tore his ACL and was supposed to be out until the 2009-10 season. But when that amazing seven-game series against the Sharks began in the first round, there was Beauch. He played all 13 games that postseason.

Beauchemin left the Ducks as a free agent in 2009, because of the salary cap mess GM Brian Burke created in assembling and paying the Cup champions. New GM Bob Murray reacquired Beauch from Toronto in 2011. Only five years ago, in the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the 32-year-old defenseman was fourth in Norris Trophy voting and a second-team all-star.

Beauch left the team as a free agent one more time in 2015. This time Murray wanted to keep him but thought two years was the maximum contract he should give the aging defender, especially since Beauch wanted a full no-movement contract (NMC). Colorado bit and gave him the three-year NMC he was looking for. It didn’t work out with the Avs and bought him out of that contract after two years. Bob Murray, who was correct about Beauch, coaxed him out of retirement this season.

The Third Time Is Not a Charm

Beauchemin has played 54 of the Ducks’ 69 games this season. He was brought in as a cheap $1,000,000 stop-gap since defensemen Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen were both sidelined at the beginning of this season following a tough playoff run. The trade of Sami Vatanen for center Adam Henrique last November has left the Ducks regularly playing Beauchemin longer than planned. Murray only hired Beauch to be the seventh defenseman after Lindholm and Vatanen returned.

This Is the End

Beauchemin is slower now than he was during his second stint with the Ducks. He can still defend well in a phone booth, but the game is played at high speed these days. Beauch is still hard to play against down low despite his lack of mobility. Take a look at this goal from January 21 against the Sharks. No one thinks of Vlasic as an offensive defenseman. This play is pretty typical of Beauchemin “on the move” these days. It’s not like the referee got in his way, like in the infamous game 4 of the 2015 Conference Final.

The aging Beauchemin apparently must play on the left side as a left-handed defenseman. If you look at the fancy stats, 36-year-old Kevin Bieksa is worse than Beauch. Bieksa should play the right side as a right-handed defenseman.  With the emergence of left-handed Marcus Pettersson, who played exclusively on the left side down in San Diego, one of the two old guys needs to sit right now while the playoffs are still in reach. When Coach Randy Carlyle pairs Pettersson with Beauch, Carlyle has been forced to move the inexperienced Pettersson to his unfamiliar right side. This is bad for the team.

The Long Goodbye

Ducks fans love Francois Beauchemin for good reason. He has been in Anaheim for a long time and is a class act who mixes well with the fans. The man is tougher than nails. And he loves playing in our little town. But the time has come for Beauch to hang ’em up. The 37-year-old can’t consistently keep up with the game anymore. He needs to regularly sit now if the Ducks are to have any chance to advance in, or maybe even to, the playoffs this season. Prospects Andy Welinski and Jacob Larsson are about ready in San Diego, so it looks like both old men will be gone next season. When you see Beauch, tell him thank you…and goodbye.

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