Reflecting on… Don Beaupre (on His Birthday)

Posted September 19, 2012

With the lockout in full effect, there will be a lot of reflecting as hockey media tries to find things to write about. Fortunately Youtube provides us with this video:

That’s today’s birthday boy, former Washington netminder Don Beaupre looking the most depressed one can look while singing such a fabulous nineties tune. Given some of the drama that permeated his career, Beaupre had at least a reason to look a bit glum.

What’s more unfortunate is how Beaupre’s trials with then-Caps general manager David Poile relate to the NHL’s present situation. Prior to the 1994-95 lockout, salaries had been steadily increasing and with the Alan Eagleson scandal gaining ground, players were standing up to their bosses unlike ever before.

Beaupre, who had come to Washington in 1988 after demanding a trade from the Minnesota North Stars, spent the Capitals’ 1991 training camp and early season in Minnesota while holding out on contract negotiations. To provide perspective, according to the Washington Post, fellow netminder Mike Liut, who would retire at the end of the season and had had a 13-16-3 record the year before, was set to earn $525,000 while Beaupre had made $340,000 the previous year while setting a 20-18-3 record.

The then-30-year-old goalie would return after four weeks of holding out, but after three years in a row of contract disputes, he questioned his role on the team. At the end of the four-year, $3.4 million contract signed that season, Beaupre was traded to the Ottawa Senators. After the trade, he described the confidence he felt the organization lacked in him, “After I signed the four-year contract four years ago, I thought that the first chance they got to move me in the right situation I was going to be moved.” Indeed, though Beaupre had set a record for the organization in wins (128), Poile was by that time shifting focus to the development of Rick Tabaracci and Olaf Kolzig.

The Ontario native, who had gone–as a rookie–to the 1981 Stanley Cup Finals with the North Stars, ended his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1997.

Despite the contractual issues, the now 51-year-old seems to have enjoyed his stint in Washington, having played what he called “some of the most fun times in my career” in the nation’s capital.