Making a Statement: Nathan Beaulieu

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Nathan Beaulieu (Photo by Getty Images)

by Shannon Penfound, Staff Writer and Event Coordinator, All Habs Hockey Magazine

“I was happy to come here and show what I’ve done so far. To show that there’s improvements to be made and I’m taking a lot of steps forward, just to put it in their heads that I’m ready1.” – Nathan Beaulieu

WINNIPEG, MB. — Twenty-two year old Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman Nathan Beaulieu uttered those words on July 7th last year, just weeks after the Habs lost the conference finals to the New York Rangers, which ended their 2013-2014 season. Beaulieu played seven playoff games with the club last year, averaging just over 10 minutes a game. Little did he know, that in less than a year’s time, he would be required to step into a very big role.

Beaulieu grew up in a hockey family. His father, Jacques, coached in the QMJHL for the Saint John Sea Dogs, a team his son would soon play for. Following his father’s termination in 2009, the Sea Dogs hired Beaulieu’s first link to the Montreal Canadiens, future assistant coach Gerard Gallant. Beaulieu worked under Gallant’s guidance and quickly made a name for himself as a solid offensive defenseman with excellent skating ability. The Montreal Canadiens took notice and drafted Beaulieu 17th overall during the 2011 NHL Draft in Minnesota.

(Photo by Getty Images)

Beaulieu made his debut with the Hamilton Bulldogs during their 2012-2013 season. That year, Beaulieu met a few other future Habs teammates while playing for Team Canada during the 2012 World Junior Championships: Michael Bournival and Brendan Gallagher. Team Canada went on to win the Bronze medal.

Beaulieu played his first official game as a Montreal Canadien on March 30, 2013, and earned two assists in six games played that season. While it took a while for him to find his groove with the club, I think it’s safe to say the young defenseman has been a pleasant surprise and has had a good showing thus far this season.

Standing at 6’2” and just shy of 200 lbs., Beaulieu is able to hold his own on the ice. As the season progresses, it is obvious that he is becoming more confident in his decision making and ability to be the physical force that the Habs require. With recent injuries to both partner Sergei Gonchar, and fellow defenseman, Alexei Emelin, Beaulieu will likely be given some added responsibility over the next few games. Beaulieu averaged 14.14 minutes on the ice for the first eight games in February. Following the loss of Emelin Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators, Beaulieu saw his ice time increase to 24 minutes. Even with the addition of Jarred Tinordi to balance ice time, Beaulieu was given 25:10 (a career high) on Thursday night against the Florida Panthers. The added pressure does not seem to faze him, though he did comment on the loss of his teammates,

“It’s not going to be easy. Those are two huge pieces of our puzzle…Hopefully they’ll both be back soon2.”

(Photo by John Kenney / Montreal Gazette)

The fact that Beaulieu defended Gonchar without hesitation following the hit by David Clarkson of the Toronto Maple Leafs, speaks volumes of this kid’s character. After the game, Beaulieu had this to say,

“I didn’t like the hit…in this locker room we take care of each other. There’s a little special bond between me and Gonch, he’s taken care of me since I’ve been up, so it was good that I could do that for him3.”

To top off what has been a stellar season, where we have witnessed this young defenseman morph into a solid member of the organization, Beaulieu finally scored his first NHL career goal on February 18th against the Ottawa Senators. It may not have been pretty, but you can bet he feels good about reaching another career milestone.

I think I speak for most Habs fans when I say: Welcome to the club, Beau Flow.

  1. Montreal Canadiens. (July 7, 2014). RAW: Nathan Beaulieu. Retrieved from: http://video.canadiens.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=627956&catid=66
  2. Montreal Canadiens. (February 18, 2014). Postgame: Nathan Beaulieu. Retrieved from: http://video.canadiens.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=756447&catid=66
  3. Montreal Canadiens. (February 14, 2014). Postgame: Nathan Beaulieu. Retrieved from: http://video.canadiens.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=752437&catid=66

11 COMMENTS

  1. When Beaulieu jumped in to defend line-mate Gonchar this really showed me that this kid has character to say the least. The kid showed commitment & loyalty to a senior player that has mentored him this season.
    I’ve been quite impressed with Beaulieu’s speed & commitment to the transition game this has helped the team immensely to say the least cutting down on pressure from the other teams in their own zone.
    Beaulieu’s play will come in handy now that the Habs have come down with a few key injuries in recent days on their defence.
    Having patience is just a key component when dealing with a young talented player too fast is not good it can destroy a good player.
    Beaulieu is a prime example on how to break in a player that has & is going to make it in the NHL.
    Habs have a great future in the farm system & smart drafting is only going to make things brighter.
    Go Habs Go !!!

    • You hit the nail on the head, Mark. Patience with younger players is key. It is part of the reason why I worry about the future of the club under the reigns of Therrien, as I feel (though he is much better than he used to be) he still lacks the patience necessary to cultivate young talent. Our talent pool is exemplary, thanks to our extremely talented scouting team – but time will tell if these young players can break into the league with a few closed-minded coaches behind the bench.

      Cheers!
      Shannon

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