by George Gross
Jacques Beauchamp, the late sports editor of Journal de Montreal, was not only an outstanding journalist, but a true sports fan. He loved horses and if he wasn’t at the track, he was at the old Montreal Forum, practising with the Montreal Canadiens. No kidding. It was a well known secret that Jacques considered himself the backup goalie for the unforgettable Jacques Plante.
Many stories have been written about the Habs by Beauchamp, but almost as many about ‘Jacques’ the practice goalie of Les Canadiens. Probably one of the funniest columns was written by the late Hal Walker, former sports editor of the Toronto Telegram. “Jacques Beauchamp is a sturdy 32-year-old, 210 pounder who travels with Les Canadiens – fall, winter and spring,” wrote Walker in his column on December 1, 1959. “He writes of their glamour, their mistakes and their ability to make the rest of the league look like poor relations.
“After he finishes typing his story, he puts on goalie pads and bravely faces the lethal practice shots of Messrs. Geoffrion, Richard, Beliveau, Harvey et al. This season, in recognition of such bravery, Montreal’s general manager Frank Selke, signed him to a Canadiens’ contract. This makes the affable Jacques unique because if Jacques with the surname Plante gets wounded by a puck or skate, Canadiens are at liberty to wave up to the press box and summons Beauchamp into the nets.
“Yesterday afternoon in the Canadiens’ steamy dressing room, the players were dressing after their light drill. Mr. Beauchamp had to write a story, so he asked his understanding coach, Toe Blake, is he could miss practice. Mr. Blake patted him on his curly head and told him to go write some bon mots about Les Canadiens and not to worry about the team.”
When Beauchamp, who devoted his life to tutoring budding journalists in sports and news, running the sports department, writing a column and covering the Habs for three decades, died at 61 in September, 1988 more than 1,000 people jammed into St. Alphonse d’Youville Church. The entire Habs team and former greats such as Toe Blake, Jean Beliveau and Serge Savard attended the funeral mass.
Jacques Beauchamp was a journalistic jewel and is very much missed.