Jay Beagle and the comfort of a broken bone

After missing two dozen games, Canucks centre was eager to rejoin the team.

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Jay Beagle was itching to get back in the lineup, particularly when the Canucks hit their recent losing skid.

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“The hardest thing is being sidelined during the hard times,” he said before he made his return to the lineup on Tuesday night. “To be sidelined and watch your team do good and be winning games, that’s great, but when it’s the hard times, that’s when you really want to get back out here.”

Beagle missed 24 games after breaking his forearm blocking a shot against the Florida Panthers on October 13th. Oddly enough, Beagle suggested that the injury itself was almost comforting. At the very least, it took all the guesswork out of his recovery.

“Broken bones are always, I think, easier mentally than soft tissue stuff,” he said. “When you have something happen where it’s a tweak of a groin or hips or something happens where it’s the soft tissue, that’s pretty frustrating because there’s never a timeline. You don’t know if it’ll be a week or four weeks.

“This, they knew. They told me, beginning of December I’ll be back.”

That stands in stark contrast to the recent return of another Canuck, Brock Boeser, who was playing through a groin injury until a tweak in a game against the Colorado Avalanche took him out of the lineup until it was back to 100%. For Boeser, the hardest part was the uncertainty.

“It’s tough when you have that same pain that doesn’t go away,” said Boeser before his return last week. “I think that was one of my main issues, I wanted to know what was wrong.”

So often, we don’t notice our bodies until a moment of disfunction — an injury or an illness — and it can feel like a betrayal, like the body is some alien thing outside of ourselves acting as an obstacle. For a professional athlete, whose identity is wrapped up in what they can accomplish with their body, not knowing what is wrong inside their bodies can be particularly terrifying.

With that in mind, it’s easier to understand why a simple injury like a broken bone would be a relief. There’s nothing unknowable there; it’s not a threat to his identity as a hockey player.

The broken bone could almost be considered a blessing, in fact, as it allowed Beagle to be with his family for the birth of his daughter.

“You have to look at the positives, right?” said Beagle. “After it’s happened and surgery goes well and everything goes well, I looked at it as obviously something that I can’t control. I just have to take the time to heal it well, but also to be with my family. We had a baby girl and I was able to be there for that after the surgery; I think it was a day or two later that we had our baby girl.

“By the time all the dust settles and all the emotions settle, it was something where I really looked to spend time with family and spend time with my three kids and wife and just enjoy it, because there was nothing else I could do.”

Beagle talked about the unexpected opportunity of being there for the first month of his baby girl’s life instead of spending most of that month on the road with the Canucks. It’s an opportunity that most hockey players don’t get during the season, though he joked that the surgery came in time that he couldn’t use his broken arm as an excuse to get out of changing diapers.

Now, back on the ice, his focus is on being in the moment with his teammates and helping them secure a few more wins late in the third period.

Stick-taps and Glove-drops

A tap of the stick to the Seattle expansion bid, which was approved by the NHL’s Board of Governors this week. The as-yet-unnamed Seattle team will join the NHL for the 2021-22 season and immediately provide a geographical rival for the Vancouver Canucks.

I’m dropping the gloves with the Canucks for sending down Sam Gagner when Jay Beagle returned to the lineup. Gagner was playing well in the top-six and on the first power play unit and deserved to stay with the team, even if it was in a reduced role.

Big Numbers

650,000,000 - The Seattle ownership group will pay an NHL record $650 million expansion fee, which is $150 million more than that paid by the Vegas Golden Knights.

44.1% - The Canucks are 30th in the NHL in scoring chance percentage, as measured by Natural Stat Trick. At 5-on-5, the Canucks had just 44.1% of the scoring chances and have been out-chanced 691 to 545 this season.
 

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