Thursday, August 27, 2009
Photo by Wes Cunningham. Used with permission.
At the ripe old age of 26 [side note: boy, do I feel old], Dan Hamhuis is the oldest and most NHL-experienced defenseman on the team. Now, when you think of defensemen who really get the job done for us, Dan Hamhuis is not normally the first one to come to mind. Well, at least for me, he’s not. The powerhouse pairing of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber (whom I affectionately refer to as “The Twins”) are my go-to guys for defense. Even just a season ago, I would not have had such great things to say about Suter because I was always disappointed in his effort. BUT, he stepped up his game over the course of the ’08-’09 season and eventually won a first class ticket to my hockey loving heart...and I didn’t even have to call him out. On the other hand, Shea Weber had pretty much already secured himself a place in my heart towards the end of the ’07-’08 season and his performance over this past season just sealed the deal. I LOVE me some Shea Weber.
But poor, poor Dan Hamhuis...maybe he’s too under assuming and soft spoken for me to really turn my attention towards him. The guy has been on our team for years and yet he's never given me reason enough to notice him. At the end of each season, I find myself underwhelmed with his performance on a whole. If you look at his numbers over the past three seasons, the most you can say is that he remains consistent. While staying consistent on a team like the Predators (where their ability to remain consistently inconsistent is a constant thorn in my side) is no small feat; for a defenseman in the prime (one would assume) of his playing years, Hammer should be gearing up for a stellar season. But is he? I’m afraid he might resort to yet another “Mehhh” performance. So what if he’s got a killer hip check? Hip checks don’t get the job done on the blueline. And yes, some could argue that Dan might find it a little harder to be a breakout star this upcoming season now that his defensive partner, Greg Zanon, will be playing for the Wild. But I would argue that now, more than ever, is when Hamhuis finally steps it up and becomes a leader on the ice, right along side Suter and Weber. Young guys like Cody Franson, Teemu Laasko and Alexander Sulzer are ready to fill in the remaining spots left open on the blueline. Their entire NHL careers are ahead of them and I’m sure they are more than willing to show what they can bring to the game. They still play hockey for the love of the game and the pursuit of something they’ve been waiting for their entire lives. I’d like to see a little bit of that spark in Hammer this time around. And do I even need to mention the fact that it's his contract year?!
With the lack of true veteran experience in our defensive core, it is time for someone to take their role a little more seriously. And that someone is Dan Hamhuis.
On a related note: Chris Chelios as a Predator? Umm, I don't think so....