Jay Beagle Found His Role with Washington Capitals by Dropping Tough-Guy Act

Robert WoodCorrespondent IJuly 10, 2012

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 21: Jay Beagle #83 of the Washington Capitals celebrates his goal at 14:27 of the second period against the Boston Bruins in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 21, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Entering the 2011-12 NHL season, Washington Capitals center Jay Beagle had a reputation as a small-time tough guy

In four seasons with the AHL Hershey Bears, Beagle had a total of 129 PIMs, with five fighting majors in 211 total games.  

And in limited NHL action, he even had a fight during the preseason.  

Not surprisingly, the most indelible moment of his NHL career occurred during the 2011-12 season when he put his tough guy act to the test against one of the league's best enforcers, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Arron Asham

During the third period of an October 13th game at Pittsburgh's Consol Energy Center, Arron Asham took exception to a hit by Jay Beagle on Pittsburgh defender Kris Letang. Asham invited Beagle to dance, and he was a willing partner. 

Jay Beagle opened the fight with four quick rights. But Beagle wasn't able to knock Asham down, and Asham hadn't even freed his right hand yet.

When he finally did, the fight was over in short order. 

Asham landed two hard rights to Beagle's face, the second one knocking Beagle out before he even hit the ice. 

While Capitals trainers rushed onto the ice to tend to the stunned and bloodied Jay Beagle, Arron Asham infamously sullied the tense moment by making a "he's finished" motion, and then a "sleep tight" motion. Asham was not suspended for the incident.  

Beagle suffered a concussion and did not return to the Capitals until December 28th. 

When he did return, he was a totally different player. Beagle was more engaged in the game and became a valuable shutdown center.

He was excellent on faceoffs, finishing the seasons with a 57.7 win percentage, second best on the team. And he excelled on the penalty kill, as well. Beagle finished with four goals in 41 regular season games and added one goal in the playoffs. 

But the most notable difference in Beagle's game was his pugilistic proclivity, or lack thereof.

He did not fight anymore in the regular season or postseason and did not even seem interested in the extracurricular activities. In fact his only fight of the year was that forgettable fracas with Asham in October. 

And the change in playing style paid off. On July 5th Beagle signed a three-year contract extension worth a total of $2.7 million. 

Jay Beagle stopped fighting and started getting paid.