Nathan Beaulieu and Jacques Beaulieu are free men, albeit ones who ought to feel a little chastened.
Neither the Montreal Canadiens prospect nor his father, the ex-Sarnia Sting coach-GM, are going to have their lives overly disrupted after pleading guility to assault charges stemming a "drunken hockey game in a friend's garage" back in April. Each of the Beaulieus received a conditional discharge in London, Ont., court on Wednesday.
In Ontario, a conditional discharge essentially means that the accused have pleaded guilty but are not actually convicted of a criminal offence. The discharge disappears from police databases in time. It also means Nathan Beaulieu, who is entering his second pro season in the Habs organization after a four-year career with the Quebec League's Saint John Sea Dogs, will not have any interruption in his hockey playing.
The elder Beaulieu was sacked by Sarnia roughly one month after the charges. The Sting, by the looks of it, made certain they were in a safe zone where they could make it clear Jacques Beaulieu had been let go for reasons "not related to the on ice performance of our hockey club without opening themselves up to any wrongful dismissal claims.
The blow-by-blow, by Jane Sims.
Assistant Crown attorney Steve Monaghan set out what happened when golf, hockey and booze clashed with the Beaulieus.
The two men assaulted were brothers-in-law David VanGeffen and Wesley Vanderwal.
The Beaulieus, Van Geffen, Denton Hackney and two other men were together at the Caradoc Sands Golf club in Strathroy-Caradoc on April 27.
Vanderwal arrived to meet his brother-in-law for a meal and drinks. It seemed to Vanderwal that the entire party had been drinking, Monaghan said.
At about 10:30 p.m., the group retired to Hackney’s home where they played hockey in the large detached garage.
Both Beaulieus were seen damaging some of Hackney’s property. Nathan Beaulieu used a goalie stick to smash a net and break some hockey sticks belonging to Hackney’s kids.
Vanderwal thought this was wrong and told the Beaulieus they should stop.
That suggestion, Monaghan said, “seemed to enrage Jacques Beaulieu.” He walked up to Vanderwal and said “who the (expletive) do you think you are?”
And with that, Jacques Beaulieu grabbed Vanderwal by the left shirt sleeve and ripped it off. Both Beaulieus attacked Vanderwal, who tried to leave, but not before he was punched eight times in the face, Monaghan said. (London Free Press)
It's fair to suggest the damage done will mostly be in reputation. Jacques Beaulieu will probably find work in the hockey industry very soon, but the fact that one of his former players was one of the two assault victims should be a red flag if he ever applies for a position in the Canadian Hockey League.
There is a huge amount of trust that has to exist between teenage players, their families and the adults operating the teams. It's a results-based, bottom line-minded business and a very rough sport. Someone worthy of being called a coach would never endanger a player's physical safety; that taboo should continue afterward. Maybe it would be token, but if Beaulieu is hired somewhere, it would be good to know that the team cleared it with the league office first.
The Guelph Storm had to do so with OHL commissioner David Branch in 2011 after hiring Bill Stewart as an assistant coach. Stewart was ostracized from the OHL for a decade after trying to smuggle a player across the Canada-U.S. border in the team bus' cargo hold while coaching the 1999-2000 Barrie Colts. That was obviously far, far worse than beer-fuelled shenanigans that escalated to the point of physical violence.
Point being, though, hockey parents and the paying public have a right to know that someone who crossed the line has learned the error of his ways.
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.