VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Anthony Beauvillier has been here seven months and parts of two seasons, but it is still a little weird for the seven-year Islander, referring to his former teammates as “they” and not “we.”
The first time Beauvillier played against the Islanders was so soon after the trade that sent him across the continent he had yet to break out of the accompanying whirlwind.
“Saying goodbye, I think [was the hardest thing],” Beauvillier said Wednesday morning in the Canucks’ dressing room. “Looking back on it, yeah, just friendships and memories and bonds you created over the years, that was hard to leave for sure. Something new, like going into something new and unknown, is always scary. Gotta adapt quick and stuff, that was hard for the head. It was a lot of thinking and trying to look back at memories and stuff that you’re going through.”
Beauvillier walked into a team in the midst of change — having just traded its captain, Bo Horvat, to the Islanders and hired Rick Tocchet as its new head coach.
But those changes have seemingly worked well for Vancouver over the long run, with the Canucks sitting in second place in the Pacific Division entering play on Wednesday.
Beauvillier, skating mostly in the bottom-six, has scored twice with four assists while averaging 13:29 time on ice.
Vancouver, he said, has started to feel like home.
“Probably when I got here for training camp,” Beauvillier said. “Moving into my apartment, having my stuff there. I think you have to, wherever you play, make it feel like home to feel comfortable. It was pretty quick, which I was happy about.”
With the Islanders in town, Beauvillier saw some of his old teammates on Tuesday night and still regularly stays in touch, trying to watch them when he can.
No surprise, he thinks the Islanders can break out of their current funk.
“I know they have a lot of character in this room, they’re well-balanced,” Beauvillier said. “Great leaders. I think they’re gonna be fine. They’re going through some adversity. I feel like they’ve always had that over the years. They came out on top.”
This room — because time doesn’t stop Freudian slips.
Beauvillier was around long enough to remember the Islanders going into the COVID-19 pause on a seven-game losing skid — the last game of which happened to be in Vancouver — then coming out of it months later to go on a run to the NHL semifinals.
“Back in the bubble, we were just in Toronto and all the memories — the bubble was fun for us. I think we had such a close group,” Beauvillier said. “It was a lot of fun. The bubble, for me, will always be a positive memory. It might even be my best with the Islanders, honestly.”
Better, even, than scoring the last goal in Nassau Coliseum to send beer cans flying and the Islanders to Game 7 in Tampa?
“That goal is such a cliche to say,” he said.
Beauvillier knew Horvat’s return to Rogers Arena would be emotional, because he’s already had the privilege of playing in UBS Arena as a visitor.
“To step on the ice for the first time and seeing a bunch of signs for warm-ups and stuff, that got to me more than the tribute ,” Beauvillier said of the game last February in which his power-play goal proved the winner in a 6-5 barn burner. “It was a special night. I wish I could remember more of it. I wish I could relive it.
“It ended up being a great night. Obviously we won but it was so special to go back to that building. Still so fresh and seeing the love that the fans had for me was so cool.”