Born in Brighton, England, in 1990, Hammond moved to Canada with his family as a child and began playing hockey with the Juan de Fuca Orcas in British Columbia. He returned to the UK in 2016, and made his Team GB debut in 2018 after completing two seasons in the Elite League.
That 2018 Division IA World Championship campaign ended in glory, with Hammond helping Pete Russell’s team to promotion to the top division for the first time since 1994. One year later, the centre was at the heart of another great moment in British hockey, scoring the second goal in GB’s dramatic comeback win over France to defy the odds and remain with the elite. That was his fourth goal at the tournament as he led GB in scoring.
Hammond’s last game came in Nottingham when he scored GB’s third goal and added two assists in a promotion-clinching 5-3 victory over Italy. That secured Division IA gold and sent the Brits back to the top division for next season.
He was also due to confirm a contract with Glasgow Clan, the organisation where he first played in Britain’s Elite League. After news of the talented forward’s death, the team’s head coach Jason Morgan told the club website: “I’m so saddened by the devastating news about Mike Hammond and I’m at a loss for words ... I was thrilled for the upcoming season to have the opportunity to work with Hammy, but this is such terrible news for everyone.” Aaron Murphy, the Clan’s senior advisor, added: “We all know what a player he was, and I enjoyed calling some of his big moments in commentary, particularly for GB. I was looking forward to working with him this season.
“He will be sadly missed by everyone in the British ice hockey community and my thoughts are with Mike’s family and friends.”
As well as his productive contributions on the ice, be it for his country or for the four clubs he represented in Britain, Hammond was also known as a great ambassador for the game. As Thursday’s sad news broke, many recalled how he was willing to make time to speak with fans after games. He was also a popular figure with the media, ever obliging in the mixed zone and an enthusiastic advocate for his team-mates.
Hammond’s hockey career began after his family moved to Victoria, BC. Aged just 16, he helped the Victoria Cougars win the 2005/06 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. Mike led the lead in scoring that year with 98 points in 48 regular season games.
He continued his development, playing BCHL hockey with the Victoria Grizzlies and the Cowichan Valley Capitals before moving to Lakehead University. During four seasons as a Thunderwolf, including one year as alternate captain, he was nominated as an All-Star and won the Most Sportsmanlike Player of the 2015 season.
The University paid tribute to its alumnus on its Facebook page: “Mike was a talented competitor, who exemplified leadership and dedication to hockey. His attitude towards the game awarded him with OUA accolades as both an All-Star and Most Sportsmanlike Player.”
After graduating in 2015, Hammond had a season in the ECHL before moving back to Britain. He went on to represent Braehead Clan, Manchester Storm, Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers in the Elite League. He also played for Lausitzer Fuchse and Hannover Scorpions in Germany, plus short spells in Denmark with Odense and Frederikshavn.