Call it the Jeff Halpern pick.
Kings GM Dean Lombardi has been known to wheel and deal his draft picks – trading up, trading down and often bundling them with an ‘asset’ when trading for another team’s player.
At the 2009 NHL Draft, Lombardi did a two-for-one deal, sending the Kings fourth and fifth round selections (#107 and #138 overall) to Florida in exchange for the Panthers’ third round slot in this year’s entry draft.
Then, at the trading deadline in March, Lombardi packaged that pick with Teddy Purcell, sending them both to Tampa Bay for Jeff Halpern – a move Lombardi thought would help the Kings down the stretch and in the playoffs. After all, Halpern had played in 24 post season games – which was 24 more than Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty had at the time.
This article isn’t about the Kings playoff run though. Instead, we take a look down the other side of the fork in the road created by the Kings-Lightning trade.
New Lighting GM Steve Yzerman used that third round draft pick to select Brock Beukeboom.
If that name sounds familiar, it should. Brock’s father is Jeff Beukeboom, who was a punishing defenseman for the the Edmonton Oilers and New York Rangers. He collected four Stanley Cups before his career ended in 1999.
Like most recent drafts, bloodlines were a common theme at this year’s event. Jarred Tinordi, the son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi, was the Canadiens’ first-round pick. Fellow first rounder Nick Bjugstad is the nephew of former Kings forward Scott Bjugstad. Charlie Coyle, selected by the San Jose Sharks, is a double-dipper – he’s related to Tony Amonte and Bobby Sheehan.
But Brock’s current GM, Dave Torrie of the Soo Greyhounds, thinks there is more than just an obvious family connection with his player, saying “Brock Beukeboom is steadily becoming a force in the OHL. He has good offensive tools and also has the ability to throw big open ice hits that can change the tempo of a game.”
In the interview below, The Mayor catches up with Brock on a variety of topics – including the draft process, living with the pressure of a famous father and playing for the legendary Soo Greyhounds in the OHL.
Heading into the draft you stock was probably on the rise. You had moved up about 20 spots in the final rankings for Central Scouting and finished among the top 10 in three different categories at the Draft Combine’s physical testing. What were some of the things you feel contributed to your strong showing in the final months?
Early in the season I hadn’t been playing consistently, just not myself. I found my game after Christmas and I was real happy with my play as the season ended. As for the testing, I wanted to prove that I’m not only a good hockey player, but that I’m in really good shape as well. I still would have liked to see some better results in a few categories, like the bike. But, that’s what the off-season is for. If you put the time and effort in, you’ll get the results you want.
What team was the most intimidating to interview with at the Combine and why?
For the most part, my interviews went really well. But, San Jose was a tough interview. They seemed to be thinking outside of the box and were trying to keep you guessing, rather than being straight to the point. It was fun and challenging, even though it was tough.
You’ve been playing your junior hockey with the Soo Greyhounds, the same team your dad played for. Were you secretly hoping to be taken by the Oilers or the Rangers last month…or were you glad to go somewhere else, where maybe you can write your own course?
I went in with a mindset that I would be happy with any team that picks me. I knew they wouldn’t regret taking me and I’m out to prove I’m going to be a great asset. I’m going to write my own course no matter where I go. My dad played 14 years in the NHL. He did his time and was tremendous at the role that he played, winning four Stanley Cups and contributing to each team he played on. For me, it’s time to come up through the ranks and prove myself as a worthy player in the league. I just want to go in and do my best and try to make a living out of playing in the NHL.
I would imagine having the last name Beukeboom has been a help at times and a hindrance in other situations…
It’s helped me meet a lot of new people. I’ve found the name goes a long way as far as who I am and the person I grew up to be. So, people were going to recognize me. As for cons, it allows people to criticize and compare too quickly. Playing for the same junior team, people want to compare us. The thing is though, we’re not the same player. We both have good shots. But, he was 6’5″ 230 lbs when he played and he was one of the toughest guys on ice, not just when it came to fighting, but tough to play against. For me, I’m 6’2″ 205, there’s quite a bit of difference there. I’m a solid two-way defenseman. He was a gut-grinding defenseman who would do whatever it took, including sacrificing himself to make the play.
Playing for the Soo, it’s such a storied franchise – with so many NHL great having played there……do you and your teammates talk about the mystique of the organization back in the ’80s and ’90s or is that too far removed from the current age group of guys?
It’s kinda far removed, it’s been almost 20 years since the last Memorial Cup run. We’re building the team for a few years from now, we plan on going for it. I think we’re going to have a really good squad. Right as you walk in the rink though you see the Greyhounds Hall of Fame, with players like Gretzky, Ron Francis, Joe Thornton, Paul Coffey…the list goes on and on. It’s just amazing how many players went to the NHL and had Hall of Fame type careers after starting there.
As a defenseman, what stats are most important to you when you measure your performance on a month to month basis? Do you use ice time, plus-minus, something else?
Plus-minus is something I look at. At the same time, you can’t control it. Something can happen, that’s maybe your partner’s fault, and it results in a goal. You end up saying “I was -2, but I played a hell of a game.” I think for me, being on the ice a lot and taking care of my end are the most important things. That’s hard to measure sometimes with statistics. Offense is one of my last priorities. If I can jump up in the rush, create some offense and get some points, great. But my role as a defenseman is to make sure I win all my one-on-one battles, clear the play in front of the net and move the puck up to the forwards to do their thing. That’s especially the type of player I’ll be expected to be next year in the OHL because we’re losing Jake Muzzin (signed by the Kings) and Mike Quesnele, two guys who logged a lot of minutes for us.
So, you may agree with those that say plus-minus is the most useless stat in hockey…
Probably. It could be the fault of one guy or the fault of five guys, you never know. I think it’s a useless stat because you only get a plus if you score an even strength goal or a short handed goal. It doesn’t factor in the power play. I think if it’s truly a plus-minus, it should count in every situation. I just kinda never understood the whole concept behind it. People have their different opinions on it. That’s just mine.
Unfortunately, you were given a four game suspension going into the playoffs this year. How disappointing was that and what did you learn by watching those games off the ice?
I felt like I sunk into a huge hole. I was playing really good hockey at the time. We were pumped and ready to go for the playoffs. To get that dumped on me was a heart-breaker. It’s tough to get suspended heading into your first playoff series and then to watch the team go down three games to one, it’s the worst feeling in hockey. For me, it brought down my confidence. Then, by the time I came back in game five, it was too late for us. Out four defenseman were worn out, they’d been playing 30-35+ minutes a game. I felt like we had nothing left in the tank. I hope I never go through something like that again.
Regarding your confidence at the time, was there any one person that gave you a little boost to get you through it?
My coach was the one to tell me about the suspension. He let me know that the team relied upon me a lot to get to where we were at that point and so he wanted me to keep working hard in practice, getting ready for game five. He would tell me to put the work in, put my hard hat and work boots on. I also had my teammates there to comfort me and keep my spirits high. I had to keep my spirits high and couldn’t be siting around sulking.
Playing in that first game though, I just wanted to hit everything that was in my way because I was just so pissed off at what happened. Sometimes I was probably just running around out there. But, I wanted to get my message across that I was pissed off about the decision by the league.
As you travel around the OHL, what’s been your favorite ‘road’ city to play hockey in?
I like playing in London and Ottawa. London sells out every night, so there’s been 9,000 people packed in there. It seems like half the crowd are London fans and the other half are Soo fans. It’s just a great atmosphere to play in. Ottawa is the capital city of Canada. There is always such a good, warm presence when you get into the city. We always have a day to tour the city and do some good team bonding. And then the game is at a pretty historic rink, the Civic Center. So, I like both of those places.
In another interview said you loved Barney…were you just goofing on the guy or is that for real?
I think Barney is a pretty good show. He doesn’t care what other people say. He just says what he believes in. He’s a real outgoing guy. He’s a lady’s man basically.
Chris Pronger or Scott Niedermayer?
For regular season games – shootout or overtime?
What’s your least favorite sport and why?
Curling. There’s so much physics and science behind it. It’s just too much time for me to be dealing with.
If somebody was to write a book about your life up to this point in time, what would the title be?
The Next Generation
This may be too easy of a question, but when you make your pro debut, what number do you hope to be wearing? And what’s the significance of that number?
People tell me to wear 23 because my dad wore it. But, I’m happy with 25. I picked 25 when I couldn’t get 23 originally. At the same time, I want to create by own legacy. My dad wore 23 and I don’t think it would be right to wear his number in the NHL. He made his career. I think it’s time for me to be myself and that means be a different number.
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While the bloodlines may run deep in the Beukeboom family, Brock is on a mission to carve his own niche in hockey. He wants to be a man that stands on his own two feet, hopefully creating a whole new legion of fans that will yell “Booooooo” when he does something spectacular on the ice.
As scouts often say, now that he’s been drafted the real work begins. He took step one by attending the Lightning’s Developmental camp a few weeks ago, which he blogged about for their website. You can read Brock’s journal from that experience by clicking here.
Next week he’s off to Team Canada’s evaluation camp for their World Junior Championship team being put together for the tournament this winter. The Kings will be well represented at the camp also, sending six players – more than any other NHL team.
Back in Los Angeles, Lombardi continues his quest to do more wheelin’ and dealin’. In the five weeks since the draft, he’s only signed one free agent and is not expected to resign Jeff Halpern. So, the Kings continue to search for experienced help at forward.
That means Lombardi, who is sitting with a cupboard full of draft picks and prospects, will most likely be trading another asset or two before opening night in October.
How about a winger with strong bloodlines…any available?
Interview w/ Charlie Coyle – cousin of Tony Amonte, member of Team USA’s junior team and a Sharks 1st round pick in 2010
Interview with Brandon Archibald – Soo Greyhounds defenseman, member of Team USA’s junior team and drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets
The Buzz on Jake Muzzin – OHL teammates comment on the Kings’ prospect (updated w/ comments from his GM)
Welcome to LA – Jeff Halpern – Kings acquire veteran leadership at trading deadline