During parts of 10 seasons with the Washington Capitals, Center Jay Beagle was a reliable fourth-line center, who served the team as a cog in the bottom-six. Now a member of the Arizona Coyotes, after a stint with the Vancouver Canucks, the 36-year old has come under fire from an incident during a game against the Anaheim Ducks on April 1 in which a scrum in front of the Arizona net saw Beagle drop the gloves.
With 5:37 remaining in regulation, the Ducks’ Trevor Zegras took a poke at the puck while in the goaltender’s glove and after the whistle had blown. Beagle took exception and cross-checked Zegras to the ice. Troy Terry then appeared to take a swing at Beagle during the ensuing scrum, and Beagle said “no you don’t”.
The Coyotes’ announcers seemed to feel that Beagle was relating a message to Terry. “That’s the problem with these young players. You wanna embarrass guys? You wanna skill it up? You better be prepared to get punched in the mouth.”
Zegras scored a “Michigan goal” earlier in the game, which has been considered “hot dogging” by many of the NHL veterans.
Earlier this season former Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella shot down the play, labeled it a gimmick and called it dishonest to the sport.
“I’d have a talk with the people. I would after the game,” Tortorella said. “I’m not trying to be difficult about it. It’s fun to watch, it’s really cool, but I just think our game has gone so far away from what the game should be. A hard game. An honest game. It’s almost gotten too showman. I know you need to have it; you need to sell the game, but I’m from the ilk that it’s still a hard game to play and a good, honest hockey game needs to be played and I think some of this stuff here, we get carried away.”
Zegras, who was interviewed after the game, was not happy about Beagle’s throttling of Terry and did not hold back in his comments, refraining only from using Beagle’s name.
“I get that you’re gonna hit me in the back but you don’t punch a guy when he’s down. Especially a 32-goal scorer in the NHL who’s a superstar. I think it’s embarrassing, I think it’s a bad look for the league,” Zegras told reporters after the game.
“For the player that did, it’s humiliating and I think he should be f******* punished.”
“I get that he’s gonna punch him maybe once,” Zegras continued. “But the fact that he’s down and he’s not engaged in the fight and you’re gonna hit him three more times? I think it’s embarrassing. I think he should be embarrassed.”
As expected, Beagle’s teammates were behind Jay 100%.
Here’s Coyotes F Michael Carcone, asked about teammate Jay Beagle after last night’s game: pic.twitter.com/JJDaBSJfvw
— José M. Romero (@RomeroJoseM) April 2, 2022
The NHL did not discipline Beagle for the incident (although his teammate Nick Ritchie was suspended one game for slashing Anaheim defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk), which drew the ire of many on social media, including Ducks legend and Hockey Hall of Famer Teemu Selanne, who shared a photo of Terry while stating his displeasure with the Ducks’ young players being “pushed around” and jokingly making a reference to longtime NHL forward and notable tough guy Tie Domi.
— Teemu Selanne (@TeemuSel8nne) April 2, 2022
The Coyotes sit in last place in the Central Division with a 21-42-5 record, and second-to-last in the league standings overall, behind the Montreal Canadiens. Beagle has played in 25 games, with one goal and a minus-11 rating.
By Jon Sorensen