Nathan Beaulieu’s hockey future is intact, at least for now. Whether he has a future with the Montreal Canadiens is wide open for speculation.
Beaulieu and his father got off with a conditional discharge and probation on assault charges in London Ontario court Wednesday meaning no criminal record which would have impacted on his ability to enter the United States.
Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin attaches a great significance on “individual character” and clearly neither Beaulieu nor his father demonstrated much of the quality in the ugly and nasty sequence of events leading up to the assault charges.
According to the London Free Press account of court proceedings, the incident started during an alcohol-fueled garage hockey game following a charity golf tournament in Strathroy Ontario. The two men assaulted were brothers-in-law David VanGeffen and Wesley Vanderwal. According to testimnony Beaulieu father and son were seen damaging hockey equipment belonging to their host’s children. Vanderwal told them to stop which “seemed to enrage Jacques Beaulieu.” who said “who the (expletive) do you think you are?” Beaulieu reportedly then grabbed him and ripped his shirt sleeve off and punched him eight times in the face. According to the London Free Press report,
(Vanderwal) was chased to his pickup truck by the father and son and had to lock the doors to get away from them.
Vanderwal was home shortly after 11 p.m. and immediately got a call from VanGeffen, who was still at Hackney’s (their host), (Assistant Crown attorney Steve) Monaghan said.
VanGeffen reported he was assaulted by the Beaulieus because “he would not tell them Vanderwal’s address.”
Jacques Beaulieu had grabbed VanGeffen’s shirt and “rag-dolled him around the garage,” tearing it, Monaghan said. Nathan Beaulieu joined in and punched VanGeffen under the right eye.
Police were called and the Beaulieus were charged at the Strathroy-Caradoc police station the next day.
Beaulieu won’t turn 21 until December. Boys will be boys and it is said ‘everyone deserves a second chance’. A second chance from the Canadiens may be all he gets.
Earlier this summer Bergevin traded forward prospect Danny Kristo to the New York Rangers for Christian Thomas. Kristo had a long list of alcohol related run-ins with authority during his four year stint at the University of North Dakota. He graduated in April and the Canadiens signed him to a two year contract then traded him to the Rangers three months later. Bergevin has never revealed the motivation for the deal but it’s fairly safe to say, considering his attention to character issues, Kristo’s off-ice record was a prominent factor.
With millions of contractual dollars on the line, teams are demonstrating little patience for the conditioning problems associated with alcohol abuse witness Boston’s quick disposal of Tyler Seguin. If Beaulieu has a potential problem there is off-ice support and counseling the Canadiens would happily supply. Ultimately the direction and success of his hockey career is up to Beaulieu himself.