Miller: Francois Beauchemin hopes to prove it’s worth three-peating
By Jeff Miller
ANAHEIM — It’s opening night for the Ducks.
Unless it’s more than that.
For one of them, see, it’s actually reopening night. Except if you’re thinking bigger-picture still, in which case, for Francois Beauchemin, it’s really re-reopening night.
The defenseman officially begins his third stint with the team when the Ducks face Arizona at Honda Center, Beauchemin in the unusual position of having a third chance to make a first impression.
Opening night is always a big deal, naturally, but even more so now since, not quite four months ago, Beauchemin thought his NHL career was closed, permanently, this reopening a rebirth, as well.
“It was strange,” he said following the Ducks’ final tuneup practice Wednesday. “Coming back, living in the same neighborhood, driving to the same places. It’s weird how everything happened.”
Also weird were the looks Beauchemin received recently when he walked into his favorite coffee shop, the long-term employees and regulars recognizing him after he was away for two years.
As much as or even more so than the rest of us, professional athletes are beholden to their habits, Beauchemin having no other choice but to resume stopping every morning at his local Kean Coffee.
“Those two years went by and it’s like it never happened,” he said. “It’s like I was just here yesterday. Two years … it’s kind of like I never left.”
Beauchemin certainly wasn’t expected back. He departed the Ducks for the second time via free agency in July of 2015, sure he had just signed his final contract.
Colorado was so eager to acquire him, in fact, that the sides agreed to the three-year deal within the first hour Beauchemin was available.
But in June, looking at one more season in Denver and in the NHL, only weeks after going through a positive exit interview, Beauchemin learned the Avalanche was buying him out.