As the Sports Editor for the Smithers Interior News, I got a tip that a local kid had been chosen for the B.C. hockey team to compete at the Canada Winter Games. I interviewed Dan Hamhuis at his family home in the summer of 1998.
I followed his career to Prince George, where his coach at the time told me that “We’ll be hearing about Dan for years to come.” Dan went on to play for the Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and now the Dallas Stars – with appearances at the Olympics for Team Canada.
Here is the first profile on Dan Hamhuis that appeared in the local newspaper.
He’s quiet and definitely not one to brag. But you can tell by the smile on his face that he’s pretty darn happy.
Dan Hamhuis, 15, from Smithers, made the hockey B.C. Best Ever team, and is the only player north of Kamloops to be chosen. Hamhuis will be one of six defencemen playing for B.C. at the 1999 Canadian Winter Games in Corner Brook, Nfld. next February.
Hamhuis found out that he made the team during the last tryout camp held in Osoyoos, that ran July 24 to Aug. 2 after a one-on-one interview with the coaches. The coaches told him that he had a good camp, and they thought he played really strong that morning. And then they said the magic words: Come play for us.
“It was hard not to smile,” Hamhuis said, as he cracks a grin. Just before the interview, Hamhuis said he that he was a little nervous as to what the verdict was going to be. “I’ve been there before and it’s the same feeling,” he said of the pressure.
But it wasn’t time to kick back and relax just yet. The kids who were picked stayed until the Sunday for team practices, after hearing the news Thursday. The next time the group will be together will be Dec. 26 to 30 in Campbell River. They have a schedule of games against junior B teams from all over the province: Campbell River Storm Jr. B, North Island Junior B all Stars and Nanaimo Clippers.
For now, he’s working on what he needs to improve on. He got a report card where the coaches evaluated him on his skills, coachability and his attitude. And what he got back from them was a glowing report card. If it was a school report card, he’d be on the honour roll. But it’s not like he’s going to brag about it.
“I don’t evaluate myself, I just like to play hockey,” he said. “But it’s neat to see what other people think of my play and it’s also really nice to have them tell me what I have to improve.”
Hamhuis feels that age is definitely a factor at camps like these, and that him being a year younger than most of the guys trying out didn’t help his chances. He says that his work ethic and his ability to follow directions put him ahead of the cut. Every day pre-ice instruction was held, where the coaches would draw out the drills on the board and then go to the ice, and see how everyone follows directions. Hamhuis says that he tried to remember little things, like moving his feet while on the ice between drills, he tried to do them all.
“It’s harder to pay attention to those things as you get tired but you try to keep focused,” he said.
“There were some really good players there, but they didn’t use the systems or didn’t know how to use the systems,” he added. “They (the coaches) looked for specifics.”
Leadership qualities were also an asset during this camp. Although he’s quiet and shy off the ice, he still possesses qualities of a leader.
“With our Smithers team, I try to lead by example,” Hamhuis said. “But with so many good players, it’s hard to lead example. You have to be a bit more vocal.”