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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

7 Fascinating Facts About Dan Hamhuis: Olympic Gold Medalist & B.C. Boy


“Can play a sound defensive game, log big minutes and also be used in a shutdown role. Moves the puck well out of the defensive zone. Has loads of hockey sense…” 
The Hockey News Scouting Report on Dan Hamhuis

“Clearly, there is not only a science but a sociology to hitting in the NHL. Hamhuis has degrees in both.”
Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun


#1 Origins

Dan Hamhuis was born December 13, 1982 in the northern British Columbian town of Smithers about 4 hours’ drive west of Prince George. At roughly 5,600 residents, Smithers is a small town and Dan had to work hard to get opportunities to play hockey at the highest levels. 


Photo Credit: canucksarmy.com

His parents, Marty and Ida, put him in hockey at the age of 4 and he would often be skating alongside kids as old as 8. Dan recalls many winters sharpening his skills on the backyard rink his dad made for him and eventually he would go on to win the minor hockey provincial championship with the Smithers Storm. 


#2 Prince George Cougars & the WHL

A very unfortunate event in the life of any hockey player occurred to Dan at the age of 14 when he broke his leg. The timing was particularly difficult because it caused him to miss the B.C. Winter games (where there would be many WHL scouts) and would contribute to him missing the WHL draft completely. Not a great start to a hockey career but fortunately the Prince George Cougars saw Dan play and recognized his talents. They invited him, undrafted, to their training camp where he made the team. 



Dan would go on to be a major player with the team becoming their Rookie of the Year in 1999, 2 time Scholastic player of the Year, Most Dedicated and finally MVP for the team in 2002. In his years with Prince George he would be named the WHL’s best defenseman and player of the year as well as the CHL’s top defenseman.  Hamhuis would also meet his future wife in the city. 


#3 Turning Pro – Nashville & Milwaukee

Dan was drafted 12th overall by the Nashville Predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He was cut from the Predators in his first training camp and the 2002-2003 season was sent down to the AHL to play with the Milwaukee Admirals. Having left his home province for the first time, Dan would later recount his time in Milwaukee as one of the most challenging times of his life but also as a turning point in his life and career. 



In the 2003-2004 season Hamhuis made the Predators team right out of training camp and scored his first NHL goal on October 16th against St. Louis. During the lock out of 04-05 Dan played again for Milwaukee and then another 5 seasons with the Predators. In the 05-06 season he led all Nashville players in ice time and had a +11 rating. In the later years his role began to shrink with the emergence of young star defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Suter. 


#4 Vancouver Canucks

In 2010 Dan became an unrestricted free agent and, after unsuccessful negotiations with both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, he signed a 6 year, $27 million with the Vancouver Canucks despite being offered more by other teams. Dan wanted to return “home”. 



Dan helped the Canucks win their first President’s Trophy that year. The next season they made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals although he suffered a sports hernia in the first game. He has traveled to Haiti on behalf of the NHLPA’s charity work there and also partnered with Manny Malhotra to have a playground built for Edmonds Community School which serves under privileged children in the Burnaby area. Dan continues to play for Vancouver with one year left on his contract.


#5 International Career

Dan is a true Canadian patriot answering the call to play for his country whenever he can. As a result he has won several medals. In the World Juniors he grabbed 2 silvers in 01 and 02. He has played in 4 World Hockey Championships winning 2 silver and 2 gold – most recently in 2015 in the Czech Republic where he took a turn wearing the “C” (Captain). 



 Perhaps his most outstanding achievement though was when he not only made the Canadian Olympic in 2014 but contributed to the team winning the gold medal by beating the Swedes in Sochi. This team has been described as the best defensive team (or team, period) ever produced by the country (Hockey News).


#6 His Faith

Dan was born and raised in a Christian home but went through various challenges and hardships that, in the end, helped to cement his faith. Two of the major challenges included breaking his leg during the WHL draft and his time playing in the minors in Milwaukee. He also talks about the temptations that could be stumbling blocks to a hockey career in junior hockey. “In junior you’re in a smaller town, and can become quite popular, and that can be a bit of a challenge sometimes. Thinking you’re more that you are and losing that humble, hard-working attitude can also sidetrack a hockey career.” 


Matt Duchene responds on Twitter to Dan’s quote: “Amazing quote from a current @HockeyCanada teammate... Couldn't be more true”

Dan’s year in Milwaukee (2002-03) was difficult but turned out to also be a major turning point for him in his faith. There he met and was challenged by the team chaplain named Iggy Cofaro with Hockey Ministries International.  Dan recalls that Iggy reminded him, “ That growing up and knowing about God was not good enough. He painted a vivid picture of Jesus’s love for us through…the cross. This ...inspired me to live the way Jesus taught and demonstrated for us.”  

Dan went on to say “I was actually kind of mad at him ( Iggy ) for giving me that message, because I was pretty comfortable where I was at, sorting picking and choosing where I wanted to be a Christian or not… (but) that’s when I really started to grow as a Christian”



#7 New Ventures

In April of 2014, Dan, along with Eric Brewer, officially became part of an ownership group that purchased that Prince George Cougars, his old junior team. Hamhuis described this move, "It's pretty special to be involved in the ownership of a team I played for in junior. Prince George means a lot to me. It's always the big city for kids from Smithers, and to play junior there, meet my wife there, have a kid, get married, obviously I have a lot of personal ties to the city and to get this opportunity come up I was extremely excited about it."


Prince George Citizen



On personally phoning the Cougar’s draft picks to inform them of their new team, Hamhuis says, "We all kind of thought [at the draft in Calgary] that would be a neat way to start it off and make those kids feel important…It is a big deal that they're part of this and part of our franchise.”

Dan Hamhuis has represented the Province of British Columbia, his country,  his teams and his faith in an excellent manner over his long career - and for all of this I tip my hat to him.  



"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, 
to those who are the called according to His purpose." 
Romans 8:28 ( a favourite Bible verse of Dan's) 


Sources & Further Reading:

The Hockey News: http://www.thehockeynews.com/blog/thn-in-sochi-why-the-2014-gold-medal-mens-hockey-team-is-canadas-best-ever/

The Vancouver Sun: http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/Iain+MacIntyre+Canucks+defenceman+Hamhuis+still+working+approach+with+video/10293082/story.html#ixzz3hur6Hmgb

Prince George Citizen : http://www.princegeorgecitizen.com/sports/hamhuis-deepens-his-p-g-roots-1.1019763

"Toward the Goal: Stories of Faith, God & Hockey" Cathy Ellis copyright 2012 Hockey Ministries International 
Wikipedia

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