By Larry Wigge
There was no international dateline to cross or lack of news available when Francois Beauchemin, who opened the 2001-02 season in the ECHL with Mississippi before being called up to the American Hockey League, became part of the deal for Sergei Fedorov on Nov. 15, 2005, along with journeyman winger Tyler Wright.
Wright certainly was the name player in this Anaheim salary dump of Fedorov’s contract (there was nearly $18 million over three years left on that pact). But it was the 24-year-old defenseman from Sorel, Quebec, who was Montreal’s third-round pick, 75th overall, in the 1998 draft, who would be getting a new lease on life.
“I was coming off three pretty productive seasons in the American Hockey League and I was happy that I made it to the NHL with Columbus last season when I got word of the trade,” Beauchemin remembered. “I said, ‘Wow!!’ I got traded for Sergei Fedorov!
“I remember thinking that it was like a new start for me. A challenge to show my new team. But when I got to Anaheim, I didn’t know what to think. Randy Carlyle told me to lose some weight or I’d be sitting in the press box. While I was sitting in the press box, I remember riding the bike and eating chicken salad for a little more than a week before I dropped 10 pounds. Then, I began getting more and more ice time. Tons of ice time (he went from 17 minutes a game in Columbus to 24 in Anaheim).”
Now, when the 6-foot, 210-pound Beauchemin looks to his right he usually sees Norris Trophy-winning defenseman Scott Niedermayer. Not bad for a guy who was cut by Montreal, trimmed by Columbus and scratched from the lineup when he first arrived in Anaheim.
“I’ve surprised myself, actually,” said the 25-year-old Beauchemin, grinning. “So I must have surprised somebody else, too.”