Defending Big D Talks With Former North Stars Goalie Don Beaupre

via www.hockeygoalies.org

Don Beaupre
Height: 5-9
Weight: 175
Catches: Left
Style: Upright

While Don Beaupre never played for the Dallas Stars, he was an integral member of the team that eventually relocated to Dallas.

Born in Kitchener, Ontario and raised in nearby Waterloo, Beaupre starred in the OHA as goaltender for the Sudbury Wolves. In the 1979-80 season, he finished with 28 victories and was named to the league's first all-star team.

At the age of 18, Beaupre was drafted by the Minnesota North Stars as their second pick (37th overall) in 1980.

In the 1980-81 season, Beaupre split time in net with Gilles Meloche. He played well enough to earn a spot in the NHL All-Star Game. Better yet, the North Stars pulled off what were considered to be several upsets during the Stanley Cup Playoffs to reach the Cup Finals against the New York Islanders. Although the North Stars lost the series, Beaupre won Game 4 against the powerful Islanders, 5-3.

He spent nine years with Minnesota before being traded to the Washington Capitals for the rights to Claudio Scremin. (Unrelated side note: He faced Dallas only twice in his career - both as a member of the Capitals - losing both decisions in 1994).

After a lengthy stint with the Caps, he was traded for a fifth-round pick in 1995 to the Ottawa Senators. He became the first Senators goaltender to earn a shutout.

As his career winded down, Beaupre was traded yet again, this time to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Damian Rhodes in early 1996. He retired from hockey in 1997.

Beaupre now lives in Bloomington, Minnesota with his wife Lisa and their five children. He owns Beaupre Aerial Equipment, Inc., a high-reach equipment rental company.

After the jump, Defending Big D talks with Don Beaupre:

Q: Describe how you got into hockey. How old were you when you started?

A: I started when I was seven, following my older brother who had started about four years earlier.

Q: How did you decide on goaltending?

A: I started goaltending in my third game or organized hockey when I took a turn in net. I must have played alright since I never played another position until I retired from pro hockey.

Q: Who were your goaltending heroes?

DB: Tony Esposito and Rogie Vachon.

Q: Who motivated/supported you, and in what ways?

DB: My parents definitely supported me but I was motivated by just wanting to be a good player. When you grow up in Canada, there is plenty of hockey motivation.

Q: How important was your time in the OHA?

DB: The OHA was a great stepping stone for pro hockey because of the high level of play, the challenges of travel, and the long schedule. Now it is even closer to pro hockey with all the television coverage and the pressure that adds to it, which is similar to the NHL.

Q: You used a stand-up style. Was that by choice or by design?

DB: I used whatever style got the job done at the time, but if I am accused of using stand-up style it probably was a survival mode reaction because I was only 5' 9" and 175 lbs.

Q: The time is 1980 - describe what it's like entering the draft and being selected where you were.

DB: It was an exciting time to know the reality of actually going to get at least a chance to play in the NHL by being a fairly high draft pick.

Q: What were your initial thoughts about being selected by Minnesota?

DB: I watched the young upstart North Stars beat the legendary Canadiens in the playoffs the year before and was hoping to get drafted by the Stars. It worked out rather nicely.

Q: One year later at age 19, you're wearing a North Stars sweater. That's relatively soon for a young goalie to make the big club. Explain how that came to be.

DB: I had just turned 19 during training camp. Nobody told me I probably shouldn't make the team that year.

Q: Not only do you make the team, you're chosen for the All-Star game in your rookie season. What was that like?

DB: I was definitely surprised since I never gave it a thought. I was having fun playing pro hockey and the All-Star game was just another part of the experience.

Q: To top it off, you made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. Not many players get that opportunity, let alone as a rookie. Can you elaborate on that?

DB: It was the ending to a dream year, one that I never really came close to duplicating - when I maybe would have appreciated more in my later years.

Q: Eight years after being drafted, the North Stars traded you to Washington. Were you surprised? What is it like to be uprooted?

DB: It was disappointing to get traded, maybe the first time in my hockey life that someone was saying they didn't really want me on their team. It turned out to be the best thing for my career - and for me personally - to move on.

Q: The North Stars moved to Dallas in 1993. Did you have any thoughts about it?

DB: I still can't believe a hockey team at any level would leave this state, for any reason.

Q: You were traded a few more times. What goes through your mind in the twilight of your career?

DB: Every time I was traded after my time in Washington I wondered if my career was coming to an end. It was hard to imagine I would be finished playing after one year in Ottawa after playing pretty well the year before in Washington, both in the regular season and then beating Pittsburgh in the playoffs.

Q: Did you establish any life-long friendships with other players?

DB: I met a lot of great people during my career, but it's hard to keep in contact with the busy schedule, everyone living in different cities and countries, and now a change of careers and family obligations. Our Minnesota NHL Alumni gives us opportunities to see other players, even if they are not always the closest friends we have met over the years.

Q: Besides your appearance in the Cup finals, what are your most fond memories of playing in the NHL?

DB: Playing in most of North America's biggest cities and having at least a little knowledge of what life is like in each of them is a pretty great thing, but just meeting all the people that I have over the years has been the best thing I've taken with me.

Q: What impressions do you have of the current NHL:

a) The level/speed/style of play versus the 80s?

DB: The speed and skill of the players now is amazing, especially when the biggest men in the game have as much skill as the small guys.

b) Which players impress you, goalies and other positions?

DB: The defensemen are the most impressive, the way they can skate backward and fend off the big, fast, skilled forwards like they do - all while being offense-minded as well.

c) If you had a chance to face any current forward, who would it be and why?

DB: I don't want a part of anyone anymore but it would be fun to play against Ovechkin.

Q: Are any of your children in hockey? If so, are any of them goalies?

DB: My youngest daughter is 11 and is a goalie, along with my 15-year-old son. Hard to believe!

Q: What are your expectations for them in the sport?

DB: They only expectation I have is that they try their hardest when they play and my hope is that they'll have fun.

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