The NHL lockout has changed life for everyone in the hockey world, albeit on different scales. Caps fans give their DVRs a reprieve, bartenders around arenas sling out fewer drinks, hockey writers now report on sports played with balls, some players adjust to life in foreign places, while others, like Capitals forward Jay Beagle, adjust to a life with a lot more free time and a lot less income.
Beagle had finally made it. Coming off his first full season in the bigs, marked by season high totals in goals, points and games played, the 27-year-old grinder was rewarded with a three-year contract extension in July. Excited to finally have a stable place to call home, he and his wife purchased a new home before the 2012-13 was supposed to begin.
"Yeah I guess bad timing by me," said Beagle laughing last week after a player-organized skate at Kettler. "My wife was like, 'Maybe we should wait.' but I was sick of renting an apartment, especially with the dog and stuff, so we found a little single-family house. I wanted to get a place she could finally call home. At the end of each year we'd pack everything up and put it in storage while we went home for the summer. We've been moving around for the last three or four years. We love being here -it's a great fit."
Beagle, who owns another house with his wife in their hometown of Calgary, didn't believe the owners would lock players out just eight years after canceling an entire season.
"Even this summer when people were asking me back home I just had no idea, I did not think this was going to happen. I thought because hockey was getting so popular, the HBO thing, the fan bases, the Winter Classic... especially in the U.S. with people getting so excited about the sport. Playing here you see it. You see the love for the game and the way people are embracing it almost like Canadians -like it's their sport. So I honestly didn't think the owners would lock us out. I didn't think it was going to come to that. That's why I came here, because I thought the season was going to start on time.
"We're doing fine but obviously it's not ideal to buy a house because now we have a house back home too that we bought a couple years ago. Two mortgages on one salary now. It'll get tight eventually so we need the season to start."
So far, Beagle has forgone $283,783.78 in wages, a total that will climb at the end of this month when players miss their sixth paycheck. His wife, a nurse, has become the family breadwinner. The lockout though has allowed the forward save on the cost of home repair, while pondering new career paths.
"It's crazy because you always kind of wonder what you'd be doing if you weren't playing hockey so this really makes you think. I've thought about what I'd like to go into after hockey. My wife's working a lot so there's a lot of time by myself and being bored. I've had to try and find things to do to not go crazy. I learned that I like to try and do home renovations on my own and that I don't like painting that much -I'm not very good at it.
"I apprenticed to be an electrician when I was playing Juniors, so I have a bit of an electrician background. I've done a lot of electrical work on the house -mostly minor stuff- and some dry wall repair, which I'm getting better at. The painting though I leave for my wife. I've got no touch for painting," Beagle said smiling.
The lockout has also led a few players to explore new sports. Beagle and teammate John Carlson swap their sticks for rackets to pass time in the afternoons. The two have recently taken up tennis and have re-channeled their competitive drives from the ice to the court.
"Carly beat me at first but I beat him the last one or two times," said Beagle. "It's a good game when we're playing, we're throwing our rackets and get intense abut it. I think we're undefeated playing together in doubles tournaments."
Kastles: you've been put on notice.