If you look at my photo icon on this site you will see that I am not prone to criticizing Vancouver Canuck's defender and B.C. boy Dan Hamhuis. The only Canucks sweater I own has Hamhuis' s name and number on it.
When the native West Coaster left Nashville and refused offers from both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh in order to get to free agency and sign a hometown discount contract with the Canucks I was enthused to see him come home to join the boys in Royal Blue and Kelly Green. My respect for Hamhuis grew as I watched his sound positional play, low-error game punctuated by solid hip checks that were doled out effectively.
I also enjoyed his contribution to the community when he got his teammates to help build a playground in a local area school.
Here was a good guy, good player and enthusiastic member of the team. Heck, when asked he even ramped up his offensive contribution and became a two way threat.
But this year none of that has been in evidence. The hip check has almost vanished. His positional play seems confused at times. He is not remotely close to error free. I have never seen a player fan on the puck so often with passes and clearing attempts. How often has he held on too long to the puck while trying to find a way out of the defensive zone only to get overtaken and give up the puck to an aggressive attacker?
Then came Saturday night's HNIC match against les bleu, blanc et rouge. It's bad enough that the Habs turn a home game into a road game as their fans outnumber and out-voice the hometown fans. It's bad enough that Olympic goaltending rival took advantage of the head-to-head match-up to get a leg up on Roberto for the starter's job in Sochi. But to have the winning goal scored on a carelessly handled puck that drifts into the crease much to the goalie's surprise and pinballs into the net was salt and lemon juice in the wound.
Even in talking with reporters after the game, Hamhuis did not do what he should have done: owned the mistake. He talked about the deflection off of Garrison's skate almost as if deflecting blame. But given the pressure that Roberto Luongo headed into the season with, and the fact that it is the goaltender whose stats suffered from the bobble, Hamhuis should have claimed responsibility for the goal if only to protect his goalie from any blame.
I don't know if Hamhuis is suffering from an injury, facing personal or family problems or is just in a funk for no clear reason.. But of all Canucks I would have to say his play is the most disappointing in this young season.
Come on, Dan, let's find your game and start providing the team with the solid rearguard effort your many admirers have come to expect from you. I believe you've still got game, but I'd really like to see it sometime soon.