FULLTILT LEGENDS: JEFF BEUKEBOOM

Messier (l), Leetch (c) and Beukeboom (r) celebrate a goal (NHL)

Messier (l), Leetch (c) and Beukeboom (r) celebrate a goal (NHL)

When you think of the 1994 Stanley Cup Champion New York Rangers, the names that instantly come to mind are Mark Messier, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves, Mike Richter & even Head Coach Mike Keenan.  However, one of the most beloved and popular players from that team was stalwart defenseman, Jeff Beukeboom.  To this day, if you walk into MSG during a Rangers game and hear what sounds like booing, one has to remind ones self that the Ranger diehards could be chanting “BEUUUKKKK!” instead.

Jeff Beukeboom joined the NHL as a 1st round pick (19th overall) of the Edmonton Oilers in 1983.  It took “Beuk” 3 years to crack the extremely talented Oilers lineup.  He made his debut in the NHL with Edmonton in the 1986-87 season.  He would go on to help the Oiler hoist Lord Stanley’s Cup in 1987, 1988 & 1990.  When superstar Mark Messier was dealt to the Rangers in a multi-player deal, the Ajax, Ontario, Canada native found himself on Broadway.  The Rangers had acquired Messier & Beukeboom for Bernie Nicholls, Steven Rice, David Shaw & Louie DeBrusk.

Jeff’s physical style of play and his defense first game was the perfect ying to his defense partner Brian Leetch’s yang.  Having a partner of Beukeboom’s capabilities allowed Leetch the offensive freedom to join the rush without fear of leaving a gaping hole on defense.  Beukeboom had his back.  In fact this was evident in more ways than one.  Not only did Beukeboom’s fine defense play allow Leetch offensive freedom but his physical play gave Leetch and everyone else on the ice more room to operate.  In addition, opponents were leery of trying to crowd the crease or they would have to answer to Beuk.

Even though Beukeboom never posted flashy or for that matter pedestrian offensive totals, his leadership abilities were well respected in his own locker room by both his teammates & coaches.  At various times in his Rangers career, Beukeboom was an alternate captain.  Always willing to come to a teammate’s defense, Beukeboom was there to answer the bell when the need to drop the gloves arose.  It was during one of those instances when standing up for a teammate ended up – more or less – ending his career.

In November of 1998, in a game vs. the Los Angeles Kings, Matt Johnson sucker punched him which resulted in one of the multitude of concussions he would suffer during his 13 year NHL career.  Johnson received a 12 game suspension for intent to injure which at that time was a severe punishment.  Being a hockey player, Beukeboom only missed a handful of games but things weren’t right.  The severe concussion suffered at the hands of Johnson left him susceptible to other concussions with even the slightest of bumps.

Beukeboom being tended to in L.A. (SI)

Beukeboom being tended to in L.A. (SI)

 

In a game in February of 1999, Beukeboom felt the effects of another concussion after a relatively minor collision.  The result left him feeling dizzy nauseated, fatigued, suffering from memory loss and with constant headaches.  Beukeboom was diagnosed with what we now call Post Concussion Syndrome.  Remember, there was no concussion protocol like there is today.  After consulting with doctors, Beukeboom retired in July 1999.  In his 13 year career, Beukeboom played in 804 regular season games, registering 30 goals, 129 assists for 159 points with 1,890 PIM.  In addition he was a very impressive +114 in his career.  In the playoffs he played in 99 games, registering 3 goals, 16 assists for 19 points with a 197 PIM and was a + 16.  Most importantly he is a 4 time Stanley Cup Champion.

Over the last dozen years, Beukeboom has stayed in the game as a part owner of the Lindsay Muskies of the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League.  He has also been an assistant coach for the Toronto Roadrunners of the AHL (2003-2004), the Barrie Colts (2008) & the Sudbury Wolves (2009) of the Ontario League and most recently the Hartford Wolfpack since 2012.  As a member of head coach Ken Gernander’s staff in Hartford, he has played an instrumental part in the development of future Blueshirts Dylan McIlrath, Conor Allen & Tommy Hughes. Rangers GM Glen Sather & company can only hope that the work Beukeboom does with the development of the young future Rangers D-men will result in a player reminiscent of…..Jeff Beukeboom. BEUUUUKKKKKK!!!!!!

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