On Tuesday night, the Capitals will look to bounce back from a poor Super Bowl Sunday showing against the Boston Bruins in a nighttime contest against the Vancouver Canucks. But Tuesday will also see longtime Capitals forward Jay Beagle play on Capital One Arena ice for the first time since departing the Capitals as a free agent last summer, when he signed a four-year contract with Vancouver following the Capitals’ Stanley Cup win. And while many a player has returned to much fanfare in D.C., Beagle’s return will bring an extra kick of emotion.
Signed by the Caps as an undrafted free agent on March 26, 2008, Beagle played in 211 regular season games with the Capitals American Hockey League affiliate Hershey Bears, recording 47 goals and 48 assists for 95 points, while establishing himself as a defensive-minded forward with a solid work ethic, starting in the 2007-08 season before permanently establishing himself as a full-time NHL player during the 2010-11 season, in which he appeared in 31 contests, scoring once and adding two assists for three points, with a minus-2 rating and winning 55.2% of the faceoffs he took; Beagle had appeared in a combined 10 games with the Capitals over the previous two seasons, recording one assist.
From then on, Beagle entrenched himself as a fan favorite in Washington due to his tireless work ethic, his muck-and-grind style of play, and perhaps most of all, his willingness to interact and take the time to acknowledge fans, often taking time to sign autographs for each fan in line after practice at MedStar Capitals Iceplex. While Beagle, originally a right wing, was never a major offensive contributor, he found a niche as a reliable fourth-line center, excelling at the faceoff dot (he won 56.4% of the draws he took during his time in Washington) and becoming one of the team’s best penalty killers. Beagle’s work ethic was not lost on longtime Capitals fan Aurena Raines, who shared her appreciation for the fan favorite:
“I admire his work ethic, always giving 110%. I also loved his faceoff perfection, and for being a hunter on the puck. June 7, 2018 [the day the Capitals won the Stanley Cup] was a memorable evening! July 1, 2018 [the day Beagle signed with Vancouver] was a heartbreaking one”
In 471 career games played with the Caps, Beagle recorded 116 points (51 goals, 65 assists), with a plus-11 rating, while winning 56.4% of the faceoffs he took, and 19 points in 85 playoff games played, with eight points last spring en route to the Caps winning the Stanley Cup. Beagle ranks 31st in franchise history in games played and while he may no longer be a member of the Capitals, he will forever be a fan favorite in the DMV. While Beagle’s work ethic on the ice was appreciated and essential to the team’s success, his off-ice presence and his ability as a person to connect and spend time with fans are what truly set him apart. He may not have been the flashiest, the most physical, or even the most recognized player on the ice, but he was by far one of, if not the, hardest working and an amazing person. Thank You Beags, welcome back!
By Michael Fleetwood