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Francois Beauchemin #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs runs into Ales Kotalik #26 of the Calgary Flames during game action at the Air Canada Centre January 15, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Abelimages/2011 Getty Images)
Francois Beauchemin #22 of the Toronto Maple Leafs runs into Ales Kotalik #26 of the Calgary Flames during game action at the Air Canada Centre January 15, 2011 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Abelimages/2011 Getty Images)

Leafs Beat

Beauchemin is Leafs' Mr. Dependable Add to ...







He often wears the same stern expression around the dressing room, a look that better befits a prison warden or high school principal than a stay-at-home defenceman in the NHL.

But François Beauchemin is a serious fellow who takes his job seriously, even if that means he earns an unusual label from his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates.

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"He's kind of like the 'Dad' around here," defenceman Luke Schenn said. "I don't know how to explain it. He's one of the more mature guys."



"He's the father figure for sure," said netminder Jean-Sébastien Giguère, who played four seasons with Beauchemin in Anaheim. "He takes care of everything. If you show up late, he'll always be in your face, he'll be the one giving you a fine and stuff like that.

"It's good. We need some accountability and he's the one that makes sure that happens."

Beauchemin has led the Leafs in ice time since arriving as a free agent in 2009, finishing sixth in the league in total minutes played last season. He is on pace to finish in the top 20 again this season despite earning less than 48 other defencemen.

Through much of his tenure in Toronto, he has drawn criticism from fans and media alike, pointed to as one of the reasons for the team's struggles. Recent rumours have even had general manager Brian Burke set to deal him out of town.

Missed in much of the conversation, however, has been the fact that Beauchemin's dependable game has helped keep the Leafs out of trouble more often than not in the 24 minutes a night he plays against other team's top lines.

A minus-3 after 44 games on a team that's been out scored 129-111, he leads Toronto in ice time on the penalty kill and is fifth in the NHL in blocked shots with 104.

The Leafs also out shoot other teams by one shot every 60 minutes at even strength with Beauchemin on the ice. When he's on the bench, they have been out shot by an average of 29 to 26.

And while Beauchemin has provided only minimal offence, Leafs coach Ron Wilson said he has had no issues with how his season has gone.

"He's played really well defensively," Wilson said. "We think he's playing fine. He goes out every night and he's got to play against the other team's best players and it's not an easy job sometimes. Sometimes his [defence] partner's struggling. I think Beauch has done a really good job for us."

His teammates said they see much the same.

"He does a lot of things," Giguère said. "None of it is very flashy. I don't think you could compare him to a Scott Niedermayer or someone like that because that's not his style. But he does everything very well. His game as a whole is strong."

"He definitely doesn't go unnoticed by guys on this team," Schenn said. "Being a fan, what meets your eye first is probably making spectacular plays or putting up points or a huge hit or something like that. But it's the little things that win you hockey games and you need those guys to do them. He's one of them."

As for all those trade rumours, Burke has been approached by two teams interested in adding Beauchemin for a playoff run but both offers were turned down.

The Leafs also haven't been shopping him around the league, in part because they would then have to find someone who could play nearly half of every game, not be a liability and do it all for a reasonable salary.

And those players aren't always easy to find.

"We have never offered him in a deal," Burke said. "We believe in him."

 

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