LOS ANGELES — Brock Beukeboom was 6 years old when his father, Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom, was knocked cold by a sucker punch from Kings tough guy Matt Johnson.
Brock said he has watched the video and called it "just the worst thing you can see in hockey."
Funny how good and bad get tangled up. On a day that should have been about Brock, drafted 63rd overall by the Lightning on Saturday in the third round at the Staples Center, the questions were about how the ugly November 1998 hit that caused a concussion and quickened Jeff's retirement formed Brock's perception of the game.
But Brock, now 18, said it is not how his father's career ended — Jeff retired the next summer — that has shaped him as a player, but how Jeff supported his decision to play. There also was Jeff's suggestion two years ago that his son switch from wing to defense, a move that clearly has paid off.
"I want to embrace it," Brock said of Jeff's legacy. "There's always pressure to follow in his footsteps. But I think of it as an opportunity to do something my dad did. He's definitely someone I can look up to."
"He's had a concussion," Jeff said of Brock. "He's well aware of what this game is all about. I've told Brock all along, 'You want to quit tomorrow, I have no problem with that. It's your life. Just make sure whatever you do, you do it with passion.' "
Jeff, 6 feet 5, 230 pounds, had 1,890 penalty minutes and 30 goals in 804 games with Edmonton and New York. Brock, 18, and at 6-1, 202, can play the tough guy as well, but he is more versatile. Lightning director of player personnel Jim Hammett praised his passing. Jeff said his son is a better athlete, handles the puck better and shoots harder.
General manager Steve Yzerman said the bloodlines are a bonus: "It's a frame of reference. Brock's dad was a committed professional hockey player who worked hard and was a character guy. That has a great impact on the boy they raise."
As did Jeff's conclusion that Brock's path to the NHL might quicken if he played on the blue line. The Lightning on Saturday took five defensemen with its seven picks. "Defensemen are hard to come by," Jeff said, "especially ones who can play."
"(Jeff) was the guy clearing bodies in front of the net and making the big hit," said Brock, who had seven goals, 26 points and 64 penalty minutes for Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League, where his father also played. "I have some aspects of that, but I try to play a solid two-way game and jump up in the play and try to create some offense."
Brock said he had no expectations about when he would be drafted. It did strike him and Jeff odd, though, that his path to the NHL began in the city that was the beginning of the end of his father's. Jeff, an assistant coach at OHL Sudbury, said he hadn't visited since Johnson hit him in the back of the head at the old Forum in Inglewood.
"I hadn't even thought about it," he said. "I try to put things behind. Stay focused, stay positive and work hard, and good things happen to good people."
Like his son.