When one thinks of the Capitals’ core, mainstream players such as Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby come to mind. But there is often one that some people forget and without him, the Capitals wouldn’t have the full depth at the center position. That player is Jay Beagle.
Beagle began his career in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) after going undrafted and would make it to the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears during the 2007-08 season. Beagle would make his Capitals debut in February of 2009, while Ovechkin and Backstrom were ushering in the “Young Guns” era As an undrafted player who was not in the spotlight, Beagle had to put on a blue-collar mentality to truly make his mark on the Capitals and it hasn’t gone unnoticed. Beagle notched his first career goal at the beginning of the 2009-10 season, in November against the Ottawa Senators.
Another interesting fact about Jay Beagle is that he isn’t on social media. While fans get a behind the scenes look at players like Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, and Andre Burakovsky on Twitter and Instagram, Beagle isn’t active nor does he carry a smartphone. Instead, he uses an old-fashioned flip phone that he proudly calls “Flipper”.
Beagle is also a family man. He is married to his high school sweetheart Ashley, has a son named Brandt, and a daughter. I got to see first-hand how much he loves his family when he took Brandt out on the ice to skate around, and I was lucky enough to have captured the adorable video.
Beagle is very popular amongst fans. When practices typically end, players either sign and take pictures for fans, or rush to their cars. Beagle always takes his time and signs for the fans. Two fans have unique stories about him.
Gene Wu is both a NoVa Caps reader and a diehard fan. You can run into him from time to time, at Kettler or at a game with his famous son Marcus.
“About two years ago, my son Marcus and I really started going to Kettler to watch practice and meet the players in front of the offices of Kettler. At practice we could see all the players skate, shoot and do drills. Beagle stood out as a hard worker yet had fun out on the ice with the guys,” Wu said.
“After practice, we followed people outside and waited for the players to leave/go home. Jay Beagle always seemed to be one of the first players to leave and he was always cordial and friendly, very talkative with the fans, signing whatever was presented to him and taking pictures with anyone who would ask. After 10 minutes, or however long it took him to oblige any requests, he would ask if anyone else wanted an autograph or pic… I mean what other athlete would ask that? A super nice guy like Jay Beagle!”
Luis Romero, another Capitals fan, shared a personal story of Beagle.
“I met him almost two years ago when he came with his wife and boy to the restaurant where I work. I didn’t recognize him but my co-worker, did so I ran his credit card and when I returned the card, I told him ‘thanks for the great season’. He said, ‘We do it for you guys’. Right away I brought a plate for him to sign it. He didn’t hesitate to do it. Months later they came back, he actually asked for my section, that was awesome. Another time, he brought his brother and a few friends and now a baby girl. He remembered my name and all,” said Romero.
Romero added, “He’s super humble. We’re bros to each other. He said once: ‘See you bro’ and I replied, ‘You won’t see me because I always sit in the 400 section, but I’ll see you'”.
So where does this all tie in to the team? We already know the impact he’s made on the fans and as a longtime veteran with a blue-collar work ethic, it has rubbed off on young Capitals players such as Wilson. Beagle will play on the fourth-line this season and according to a line projection on Daily Faceoff, Beagle will occupy his familiar spot on the fourth-line, but with new linemates. Those linemates, per Daily Faceoff, are Nathan Walker and Devante Smith-Pelly. Walker is more than likely going to play in his first NHL game and his first goal could likely come off a pass from Beagle. I think Walker will benefit a lot from a guy who experienced first-hand, how to work hard and earn your place on the Capitals. As for Smith-Pelly, Beagle can help him adjust to his fourth NHL team and really pick up his game. Don’t be surprised if Smith-Pelly reaches the double digit mark in goals for the first time in his career.
Those two players, along with the other “young bucks” don’t just have Ovechkin or Backstrom to look up to, they’ve got Beagle as well. If you are sitting here reading this right now, whether you are a player trying to make the Capitals lineup, a current member of the team, or a fan in the stands, we should all appreciate a team player such as Beagle.
By Michael Marzzacco