“I’m happily going into a retirement now from hockey," Hamhuis said in an interview with TSN 1050. “I feel real at peace with it...very fortunate to have played for the three organizations that I have.”
The native of Smithers, British Columbia was among the most quietly effective blueliners of his generation. “Hammer” could play in any situation. He peaked in ice time between 2011-12 and 2013-14 with an average of more than 23 minutes per game.
That said, the only season where the left-shooting rearguard’s NHL club advanced beyond the first round was Vancouver’s 2011 run to the Stanley Cup final. Hamhuis starred on the top shutdown pairing with Kevin Bieksa, but tore his groin and suffered a sports hernia in Game One of the final against the Boston Bruins after attempting to hipcheck Milan Lucic.
Fans of the Canucks, who lost Game Seven 4-0 on home ice, will always wonder what might have transpired with a healthy Hamhuis.
That set the stage for the 185-cm, 95-kg Hamhuis to participate in six IIHF World Championships, capturing four medals.
He partnered with fellow Nashville star Shea Weber in 2007 in Moscow, where GM Steve Yzerman’s Canadian squad won nine straight games, including a 4-2 gold medal victory over Finland.
When the IIHF celebrated its 100th anniversary by bringing the Worlds to Canada in 2008, Hamhuis scored Canada’s tournament-opening goal in a 5-1 win over Slovenia in Halifax. But in the final in Quebec City, the Canadians fell 5-4 in overtime to Russia, courtesy of Ilya Kovalchuk.
In 2009 in Switzerland, Hamhuis got a goal against both Norway and Latvia. However, his former World Junior teammate Jason Spezza had the lone Canadian marker when Russia prevailed 2-1 in the gold medal game in Berne.
So Hamhuis enjoyed taking revenge on Russia with a 6-1 romp in the 2015 gold medal game in Prague, Czech Republic. His team – also featuring captain Sidney Crosby, Nathan MacKinnon, and Taylor Hall – was the most lethal offensive machine the Worlds have seen in the 21st century, posting a goal difference of 66-15. Spezza’s 14 points led the tournament, while Hamhuis chipped in six assists, his personal Worlds best.
“It was real satisfying to be able to finally beat [the Russians] – and handily – in 2015 at the World Championship,” Hamhuis told IIHF.com in 2016. “To do it with a guy like Jason Spezza, who I played on some of those other teams with...we both went through those losses together, and to win together was pretty special.”
However, Hamhuis’s greatest honour came the year before in Sochi. Even though he saw limited ice time with the Mike Babcock-coached 2014 Olympic team that allowed just three goals in six games, he accepted his role with characteristic humility and soft-spoken grace. Hamhuis was the seventh defenceman when the Canadians, utterly dominant, blanked Sweden 3-0 for gold.
Perseverance and patience served Hamhuis well during his hockey career. Now he’s looking forward to spending more time with his wife Sarah and their daughters Anna (12), Morgan (10), and Brooke (8). Golfing, skiing, and fishing await in the Smithers area.