Edinburgh Capitals will round off a miserable Elite League campaign on a high note when fans have a chance to say goodbye to local club stalwart David Beatson, who is retiring from the sport after 20 years with the club.
Beatson, 36, will play his last game in a Capitals shirt tomorrow at Murrayfield when Edinburgh play Braehead Clan in their final game of the season (face-off 5.30pm).
The tough-guy defenceman, who first found out about the sport when, as a boy, he took a short-cut through Murrayfield ice rink on the way to a Hibs match, has battled back from two serious injuries that threatened to derail far more than just his hockey career, and doctors feared he would never walk again after breaking both his legs in a car accident in 2009.
Beatson, a product of the Murrayfield junior set up, started playing the game when he was 12 and said: “We were going to a Hibs away game, and we had to meet the bus at the Murrayfield hotel, so we cut through the ice rink, and I said to my Dad, ‘I’d like to try that’. Eventually that lead to skating, going to hockey games, and playing hockey.
“It’s been a huge part of my life and at one time it was all I wanted to do.
“I’ve got to give a big thank you to my mum and dad who gave me the opportunity to do this. There’s not a lot of money for British guys wanting to play professional hockey, so there was a big commitment there.”
Beatson’s father, also called David, is himself involved with the club as part of the back-room staff, alongside experienced bench coach Jock Hay, leading to the “There’s only two David Beatsons” chant that’s often sung by Capitals faithful on game nights.
Beatson continued: “Jock and him have been a team for a long time now, and he was chairman of the Scottish National League for a time. They’ve coached and managed a lot of the junior teams together, including Scotland U-19s. My dad just loves to be behind the bench and involved with everything.
“I was 12 when I started playing ice hockey at Murrayfield with the Racoons, the Ravens, the Raiders and then the SNL as we know it now.
“I missed out being with the Racers as they disbanded in 1996, but I still got to play with guys like Scott Neil, Paul Hand, Paul Pentland, plus young Plewsy’s (Tyler Plews) old-boy Scott Plews when he played for the Capitals.”
Beatson, who is also a club DJ with residency gigs at the city’s Silk Nightclub amongst others, is winding down on the late nights as he looks to concentrate working in the family business with his father, although Capitals co-owner, and former team-mate Scott Neil is keen for him to lend his expertise to the Capitals match-night experience.
“Well, will see what happens there,” said Beatson. “I do want to be involved. I helped out before when I was out for three or four seasons after I detached my hand and my bad car crash when I broke both my legs. It wasn’t known if I was going to walk properly again, let alone play hockey
“I snapped my PCL (posterior cruiciate ligament) on my left knee and an organ donor’s Achilles tendon was grafted to the back of my leg to replace it. It really is amazing, I’ve lost about 20 per cent mobility, but it does the job.”
Beatson has split his playing time between Edinburgh’s SNL and Elite League squads, and cites the SNL grand-slams of 2001 and 2014 as career highlights.
Beatson added: “To win the SNL Grand Slam back in 2001 and my first year back (after his accident) was amazing.
“At Elite League level it’s playing with some of the big NHLers that have come over, it’s been a real honour to share the ice with them. The Elite League is so good now, it’s just been a pleasure to be involved with it.
“Playing for so long in front of the fans at Murrayfield has been great. It just feels like one big family. There have been times I’ve been kicked out of games, so I just buy myself a pot of stovies and watch with everybody else in the stands.
“After some time away it’s been great to be back amongst the boys. I’ve made so many close friends through hockey, but it’s time to concentrate on the family business.”