Smithers’ Dan Hamhuis has just surpassed a giant milestone in the world of professional hockey.
The Nashville Predators defenceman recently laced up for his 1,100th NHL game against the New York Rangers on Nov. 2.
The Preds would lose that game 2-1. However, Hamhuis joins a list of only 190 other NHL players (including six other active players) to achieve the feat.
Hamhuis told The Interior News by phone from Nashville that, while he never went to an NHL game as a kid, he always admired Vancouver Canucks captain Trevor Linden growing up watching hockey on TV.
“He was the captain of the Canucks when they went to the 1994 finals when I was about 12 years old [and] was a guy that I’ve always looked up to and followed when I was a kid.”
While Hamhuis never got to lace up with Linden for an NHL game (he missed him by three seasons, joining the Canucks in their 2010-2011 season) he would play with the team for six years.
But just like Hamhuis made the decision to come and play with the Canucks despite numerous, more lucrative offers from the nine other teams to offer him deals after he became an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2010, he has also displayed a conscious effort to stay involved in the Smithers community following his entry into professional hockey.
As a kid, Hamhuis would caddy for various celebrities as part of the bi-annual Smithers Celebrity Golf Tournament.
He continued to be a part of the tournament once he began playing with the Prince George Cougars, however in a bit of a role reversal, taking up the celebrity mantle.
“I’ve been participating ever since; they do a great job and it’s really fun,” he said, adding the tournament has been such a great thing for the community and it’s been real fun to get to be on both sides of the green, so to speak.
Hamhuis said it’s tough to pick a Smithers establishment he misses most when away from home because of how many interesting local businesses there are.
“I love just the vibe in Smithers, all the locally-owned shops and restaurants and cafes,” he said.
“It’s something that my wife and I — you know, we love walking down Main Street and hitting up all those little stores and seeing a lot of friendly faces.”
In his time with the Canucks, Hamhuis was also a big advocate for children with autism, working with the Canucks Autism Network (CAN), a non-profit that provides programs and support for individuals with autism in the province and across the country.
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After his six-year stint with the Canucks, Hamhuis played for two years with the Dallas Stars before returning to the Predators for their 2018-2019 season.
The 36-year-old defenceman said his favourite thing about hockey is the spirit of the game itself.
“I love the game, I love the competition of it — I love coming to the rink and having 20 teammates to play these games [and]to travel with.
“Hockey has allowed me to have some great experiences internationally with Hockey Canada — Olympics, World Championships, World Juniors — I love the challenge of it and how it challenges me as a person mentally and physically.”
And while he said he isn’t closing any doors on future, post-NHL career prospects, Hamhuis also joked about the possibility of lacing up with the Smithers Steelheads once he skates out of the NHL.
“I’ve been told I’ve been put on their prospect list,” he said.
“We’ll see how things go here in the next couple of years. I’m not closing any doors on anything, I mean I love hockey and maybe I’ll continue to play recreationally after this, maybe not.”
Dan Hamhuis was drafted 12th overall in the 2001 draft by the Predators.
While he hasn’t yet hoisted the Stanley Cup in his 16-year NHL career, he did help the Canucks make it to the 2011 Finals where they were bested by the Boston Bruins in seven games.
Hamhuis has also won a number of medals on the international stage representing Team Canada, with six World Championships (gold in 2007, 2015) and two World Junior Championship appearances, as well as gold in the 2014 Winter Olympics.