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HomeNewsHamhuis reflects on memorable hockey journey

Hamhuis reflects on memorable hockey journey

To say it was a spectacular career for Dan Hamhuis would be an understatement.

After 1,148 regular-season games in the NHL, the 37-year-old from Smithers called it quits on Thursday after the Nashville Predators were bounced out of their Stanley Cup qualifying series against the Arizona Coyotes.

During an exclusive interview with Hamhuis had a feeling he would be hanging up the skates at the end of the season.

“The last couple of years we kind of knew that it was going to be probably sooner than later because of the age of my kids and the family situation. Going into this year, we had the sense this was probably going to be the last year but didn’t want to close any doors on it.”

“About halfway through the year that’s when we kind of felt this was going to be the last year and it was kind of nice going into it with that in the back of our minds going into buildings knowing that it could be my last game provided a sense of closure,” added Hamhuis.

However, there was a slight chance Hamhuis could have ended it all overseas but COVID-19 changed that possibility.

“We had talked to a lot of people that had gone over towards the end of their careers and brought the family over and we thought it would be a neat experience for our family to be able to go over there and the age of the kids was kind of perfect where they were young enough that it wouldn’t really mess up with their schooling but old enough they would remember it and take in the experience.”

“We were looking at Germany, Switzerland and as COVID does not seem to want to go away we didn’t want to put ourselves in a position of getting housebound and having to homeschool and not being able to travel around Europe.”

It was a gradual progression through the ranks for Hamhuis, after playing A level hockey in Smithers, he found a way to successfully make the jump to the WHL with the Prince George Cougars where he enjoyed a four-year run.

“At the time when making the jump I didn’t think much of it, I was just kind of eyes wide open and before you know it I was playing for the Cougars and went on with it. Looking back on it, it was incredible the jump from single-A to the WHL and that first year making the team was a major accomplishment.”

“Year two on the Cougars I kind of took on a significant role and then by year three I just continued on with that trajectory and I set myself up to make the World Junior team and got drafted by Nashville in the first round and then that fourth year I felt like I had taken another step,” added Hamhuis.

During the 2001-02 season, Hamhuis’ accomplishments included the CHL Defenseman of the Year and the WHL’s Top Defenseman along with a silver medal with Team Canada during his second stint at the World Juniors.

“When you’re happy and enjoying your life you play well too and I think it goes hand and hand and I know when I was living in Prince George I was loving it and that contributed a lot to the success on the ice.”

After spending a year in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals, Hamhuis made the jump to the NHL with the Preds in the 2003-04 season and was part of a team that was quickly on the rise under Head Coach Barry Trotz.

“I think it was just a great place to start a career being a smaller market team out of the spotlight a bit but still being a pretty competitive team we had a solid group and when I was drafted the team was getting out of its expansion phase and created an opportunity for me to make the team. It wasn’t a team that was loaded with all-star blueliners I had an opportunity to crack that lineup early.”

“It was kind of neat because my first year there was also the first year the franchise had made it to the playoffs.”

“I think our payroll that year was about 22 or 23 million and I remember we played Detroit that year pre-salary cap where they had an 80-million dollar payroll. It speaks to Trotz and players like to play for him and he gets a lot out of his teams.”

In the summer of 2010, Hamhuis left Music City USA for his home province signing with the Vancouver Canucks where he enjoyed another long run of personal and team success.

“It was a really special run of six years there starting off with that run to the Stanley Cup finals taking it to Game 7 with a great group of guys and it was so much fun playing in that city – it was unfortunate not to win that last game.”

“That run goes down as one of the highlights of my career.”

Even though he didn’t walk away with the Stanley Cup during his time in Vancouver, Hamhuis reached the pinnacle while representing Canada securing a Gold Medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

“That Olympic one might be number one. I mean that was such a cool experience to go over there and I brought my wife with me and we were able to take in a lot of the Olympics experience watching other events. Being apart of that Team Canada squad was awesome.”

He also captured 4 medals at the World Hockey Championships for Team Canada (2 gold, 2 silver).

Throughout his NHL career, he amassed 356 career points (59 goals, 297 assists).

Hamhuis became part of the EdgePro Sports Group that purchased the Cougars, which includes former NHL’er and Cougar alumni Eric Brewer.

“The nice thing for me is that I get to catch a few games now as I have not been able to catch games live since I was playing in Vancouver and I would see them come through but to see a few home games in Prince George is something I am looking forward to,” mentioned Hamhuis.

After wrapping up his final four seasons, which saw a two-year run with the Dallas Stars and a second stint with Nashville, Hamhuis is content to head back to his home community.

“It’s one of the places we always enjoyed living, we would come back every summer, and when I was playing in Vancouver that was certainly an option. I may want to go back to Vancouver one day and who knows that may become a possibility but we really like the community here in Smithers with lots of great friends and family and we like the activities it provides.”

“There has been so much uncertainty over the last six months we just thought that being up here in Smithers and getting the girls signed up in school here would be a better start for our family now.”


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