Before the trade that sent goaltender Don Beaupre to Ottawa on Jan. 18, the former Washington Capital hadn't lived in Canada in 14 years.
"Being here brings back a lot of memories," said Beaupre, 33, a native of Waterloo, Ontario. "The first time I ever saw Ottawa was on a school field trip when I was in Grade 10. And I'm finding out I like it. It's not far from home. It's a clean, safe place to live with a family."
It's light-years from Washington and the USAir Arena, where Beaupre will play Friday for the first time since being traded.
He has been gone for nearly two months, but memories die hard. Being surrounded by new faces is good.
"Except when I see the old guys," said Beaupre, who played the Caps to a 5-5 tie in Ottawa last month. "You know, you get attached to guys and you get used to seeing. And I don't wish anyone bad there just because I've left. In fact, I found myself respecting more how they played when we played against them last month. I respect more how hard they work. It's the first thing in the scouting report, that they put out 100 percent all the time."
Of course, all the memories aren't good. Beaupre didn't ask to be traded. He was dealt because management decided it was time to see if one of the young goalies -- Olie Kolzig, Rick Tabaracci, Byron Dafoe or rookie Jim Carey -- can take the Caps to a Stanley Cup.
It has been the Capitals' lament that Beaupre wasn't good enough to take them to a Cup. As an ESPN commentator, Capitals coach Jim Schoenfeld said the team's goaltending wasn't good enough to win the Cup, a statement he backtracked on after joining the Caps.
"I know they wanted to go to the Stanley Cup, but I wasn't the only one there who was supposed [to take them] to the Stanley Cup," Beaupre said. "There are a lot of questions. Were we supposed to go there? Did we have the makeup? Did we have the guys? I don't know. Some years, we'd go into training camp feeling we had a worse team than the year before. [Capitals general manager] David Poile would like to think we had the team. He put the team together. But he's never been there, either, so who knows?"
In Ottawa, the debate doesn't exist. Beaupre (3-13-2, 3.30 goals-against average) is on a team with 2 1/2 years of history and is respected by his teammates and by team management for what he has accomplished in his career. He is proud to be one of the veteran players who is "kind of entrusted" with providing an example to young players.
"There are so many lessons to be learned here," said Beaupre. "The young kids, all of us, know there are some hard lessons about losing to be learned. But the hope is that in the near future there will be great les
sons about winning."
The helmetless Flyer
Philadelphia's Craig MacTavish was chewing on the idea that the Flyers have been playing well lately -- losing just twice in their past 11 games to improve to 10-9-3 -- and still aren't in the playoff picture.
"Terry got us through a terrible start," said MacTavish, referring to former Washington coach Terry Murray, who now coaches the Flyers. "We started 0-3, and it was still bad at 3-7-1. But if Terry was worried, he never showed it. He was nothing but positive, always telling us we could be better, that we would be better. And his attitude finally rubbed off."
It's even rubbed off on MacTavish, who obviously has one of the hardest heads in the NHL: He is the only NHL player who continues to play without a helmet.
"I've never been injured because of it, touch wood," he said. "I wore one growing up and in college, but when I got to the pros, in Boston, no one wore one. I guess there was some peer pressure."
But now, the 15-year veteran says he is simply comfortable without one.
You tell me
Each week the NHL names a player of the week. Last week 20-year-old rookie goaltender Jim Carey came out of nowhere to lead the struggling Capitals on a three-game winning streak. He picked up the Capitals' first road win of the season and beat the New York Islanders (4-2), Montreal Canadiens (5-1) and the Stanley Cup champion and Atlantic Division-leading New York Rangers (4-2) to go 3-0 with a 2.00 goals-against average.
A natural choice? Not to the NHL, which chose the goaltending tandem of Darcy Wakaluk and Andy Moog of Dallas. They went 4-0. Each had good numbers. Wakaluk had two shutouts against the last-place Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the struggling Winnipeg Jets, and Moog allowed four goals in two games.
But where does it say "players" of the week? Neither by himself was better than Carey.