Friday, October 9, 2009

What The Heck Is Wrong With Francois Beauchemin?

Maybe not everyone has noticed, but there's a new poll down below. I'm trying to find out who Leaf fans think should be the next Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. So far, there's been only 14 votes, which tells me that there's a certain amount of apathy out there towards this decision, and maybe I should've had "no Captain" as an option. But Wilson seems poised to make a decision and since I've already made mine, I thought I would consult the fan base - which, as far as I can tell, consists of me, you, eyebleaf, and maybe a dozen other people.

So far, one thing I've learned from this poll is that no one seems to like Francois Beauchemin. At least, no one has voted for him to be the Captain yet. Right now it's a dead-heat with all 14 votes split evenly between Kaberle, Komisarek, and Schenn. So, what do we do if there's a tie? Is there overtime? I honestly don't know. I thought OLAS might be the darkhorse on the outside since he isn't one of the 3 players Wilson chose to wear the "A". Maybe he should have been. Beauchemin seems to have already dropped out of the race.

"Beauchemin is the new Larry Murphy."
-Karina, on PensionPlanPuppets

I really thought we decided it was Toskala. Okay, maybe this "Larry Murphy" is in the context of an over-paid, useless defenceman, but really the analogy that works best with that meaning would be who's your Bryan McCabe now? Larry Murphy was ridiculed, yes, but he was also booed mercilessly as a central target for fan frustration when the team was awful and poorly managed. I'm not sure Beauchemin has earned that level of collective scorn yet. Again, I think it's Toskala who's assumed the weight of the team's fortunes on his shoulders, representing both our over-optimism and impatience for success, and when the revolution turns ugly he'll likely be the first one up against the wall.

So why no support for Francois? Being a team-low in plus/minus doesn't sell too many Beauchemin jerseys I guess. On the other hand, he and Kaberle are far-and-away the team's leaders in ice-time. Beauchemin's even-strength ice-time is equal to Komisarek's, but he's so far getting more time on the powerplay. He's third on the team in shots on goal, leading all defenceman in that category, and though he hasn't found the back of the net yet, he did come close to tying the game Tuesday against Ottawa when he rattled one off the posts in the 3rd. He also picked up an assist in that 3rd period, his second of the year. While the chemistry with Schenn isn't there just yet, the effort is.

Maybe Leaf fans were expecting more form Beauchemin. I think a lot of heavy expectations have been placed on this team from fans starved for success. From Toskala, to Beauchemin, to Schenn, to Grabovski - there's not a lot of room for failure and disappointment. I've already heard grumblings about Grabovski's play in the first 3 games, yet Grabbo is tied for the team lead in plus/minus and points. I'm sure that if he, along with Stajan, Poni, and Kaberle, kept up the point-a-game pace they're on out of the gate, and all 4 of them finished with 82-point seasons, we'd be pretty happy overall with their efforts. But expectations are for wins, and the Leafs don't have any, and frustration falls on those who were expected to deliver them to us.

Just so we don't get ahead of ourselves, let's look at what type of a player Beauchemin is. His best season was 4 years ago, 2005-6, his second year in the league (61GP, 34Pts). The following year was also a success as he helped his team win the Stanley Cup. Last season, Beauchemin missed 62 games with a torn ACL in his left knee, but returned to the Ducks in the post season, appearing in 13 playoff games. In 20 regular season games plus those 13 playoff games, Beauchemin had 5 goals and 1 assist. Yes, you read that right - 33 games, 1 assist. So far this season he already has 2 assists. So in 3 games he's doubled the number of assists he achieved last year in 33 games. That's like an eleven-hundred percent improvement, statistically. And still he's not measuring up to our expectations.

C'est la vie, Francois. Welcome to Toronto.

So, seriously, is there anybody out there who thinks Beauchemin should be Captain? Vote!


Hungry Leafs Fan said...

Great post, General. I thought you nailed this right on the head. Leafs Nation is just antsy for a win. The tension should be gone once we get it. Beauchemin has definitely looked out of place so think that I was THIS close to getting his jersey too. However, from his play with the Ducks, we know what he's capable of. Hopefully he can regain that form!

nikolaou said...

good post General, my problem with Beauchemin has not been his Offensive play though, it has been his Defensive play. on a number of occasions he has taken himself out of the play by going for this awkward hit that really didnt make sense, and twice, it directly led to a goal. He has also been making a large number of giveaways and dumb plays in general, but i dont believe this is typical of Beauchemin, i expect he will calm down as we progess.

Anonymous said...

Good post, General.

I like Beauchemin and I've been following him since his days in Columbus. I'm disappointed with his play more than anything else, but I think a lot has to do with playing with new defensive partners. One can get spoiled when they play alongside Pronger & Niedermeyer all the time.

I'd get a Beauchemin jersey but I'm broke. Maybe toward the end of the season when I "think" I can afford one.

general borschevsky said...

@HLF: The Gustavsson jersey was an excellet choice.

@nikolaou: I'm waiting to see more hits from Beauchemin, but that goes for the entire team. The defensive miscues should clear themselves up.

@Rob: Beauchemin is still adjusting to new teammates and Wilson's system, not to mention living in a new city. He hasn't looked entirely comfortable (though I found no fault with his game Tuesday against Ottawa) but that could be a case of new teammates adjusting to him. See below.

@Kohma: You make an interesting point about Luke Schenn. He hasn't looked great so far and was directly involved in the play that led to the penalty shot and turning point of Tuesday's game. If he didn't have the maturity and work ethic that he's already shown, I'd be worried, but he does, so I'm not.

Cheers, gang!


Beauchemin now has 4 votes. Thanks to everyone for voting, especially those who threw their support behind Francois.

Navin Vaswani (@eyebleaf) said...

I don't think Francois is captain material, but I trust that he's going to work out the kinks, and prove his worth. He's a solid d-man, and will prove it in short order.

general borschevsky said...

Cheers, eyebleaf. Beauchemin had a goal last night but now I'm thinking the only Leafs D-man who deserves the C is Ian White.