Surrey native Andrew Hammond practices with the Ottawa Senators last week at Canadian Tire Centre. The former Surrey Eagle is in the first year of a three-year contract with the NHL team.

Hammond settles into Ottawa

Surrey native starts first full season in the National Hockey League with the Ottawa Senators

After his record-setting run last spring, which launched his National Hockey League career, Andrew Hammond’s approach to this season was no different than any other.

For the first time, the Surrey native began a season in the NHL, playing goal for the Ottawa Senators while on a multi-million dollar one-way contract. Yet he insists not much has changed.

“It’s a little bit different, but you kind of approach it the same way,” he said last week, immediately after practice in Ottawa’s Canadian Tire Centre and just prior to a flight to Michigan for a game against the Detroit Red Wings.

“If anything, you try to put more emphasis on having a good start, and making sure you do everything you can to have your season start on the right track.

“Obviously, throughout your career you’re doing all those things. But it is the NHL, everything’s cranked up a notch.”

Hammond cranked it up more than a notch last spring when he was handed the starter’s role with the Ottawa Senators. Called up in February to serve as a backup when starter Craig Anderson was injured, he became the number-one netminder when Robyn Lehner was sidelined a few games later.

Hammond then went on an amazing run, first matching a record set by Boston Bruins netminder Frank Brimsek by allowing two or fewer goals in each of his first 12 games. He then went 20-1-2 (win-loss-tie) as a starter down the stretch as the Senators overcame a 14-point deficit to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Senators rewarded Hammond, demonstrating their faith in the netminder by trading Lehner in the offseason, all but ensuring Hammond a place on the NHL team for this season.

But he isn’t taking anything for granted, knowing his status as a major-league player can change at any time. He has put last year well behind him, and is looking ahead.

“I’ve always been someone who doesn’t really get too high or too low. When it (the record-setting run) was going on, I was going about my business and I don’t think it changed too much for me,” he said.

“Hitting the reset button wasn’t something I struggled with at all. There are people all over the world training each day to take your job and you need to remember that.”

In the offseason, he signed a one-way, three-year contract with the Senators worth $4.05 million, a significant boost from the two-year deal which expired at the end of last season and paid the 27-year-old netminder at a rate of $720,000 annually while in the NHL and $105,000 when in Binghamton.

“I don’t think it really changes anything for me,” he shrugged. “I’ve always been someone trying to be the best goalie I can be. It’s all I can ask for, and whether or not I have a contract that’s going to be my focus. That’s the only way you can really approach it and have success.

“Having a contract with an NHL team is one thing, and making it in the NHL is another.”

Many players give up on the dream of making it in the NHL when in their early 20s. Now 27, Hammond achieved the goal much later than most. Having played just 25 NHL games prior to this season, he would still be considered a rookie if it not for his age. First-year players 26 and over are not considered rookies.

And Hammond himself wasn’t sure about an NHL career until he was playing with the Bowling Green Falcons of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). He joined the Ohio university on a hockey scholarship in 2009 after a three-year career in the BC Hockey League, which included a short stint with the Surrey Eagles.

“My first year at Bowling Green didn’t go great, then in my second year I started hearing there was a bit of interest,” he recalled. “But you’re always wondering, you don’t know exactly what that means.”

It was at Bowling Green he acquired the nickname The Hamburglar, a play on his name and his ability to steal games.

He had his best season in the fourth and final year with the Falcons, and the next season he was assigned to the Binghamton Senators of the American Hockey League after signing a two-year, two-way contract with Ottawa.

Even then, Hammond was giving his best, but not counting on getting a chance to play regularly at the NHL level.

“I knew I was going to give myself the best chance, and if it was meant to happen it would take care of itself,” he said. “But it wasn’t something I could worry about.”

He doesn’t have to worry about it now, as he’s firmly entrenched as the backup goalie to Anderson this season, knowing the Senators have full confidence in his ability.

It’s a far cry from six years ago, when a Junior A standout was hoping to be able to make it as an NCAA goaltender, leaving his home in Surrey to play at a higher level on the other side of the continent.

“When I left for college, it wasn’t in my mind that I wouldn’t return home (to Surrey),” he said. “But it’s part of growing up and thinking about your job. After going to college and everything, things change.”

Rigid in his thinking of not looking to far ahead, Hammond is looking forward to Feb. 25, when the Senators are in Vancouver to play the Canucks at Rogers Arena.

“It will be special,” he admitted. “It’s the team I grew up following and cheering for. I went to a lot of games in that rink as a fan. To have more friends and family in the building it will make it that much more special.”

Just Posted

Crashes pile up as snow blankets Surrey

Up to 10 centimetres of snow is in the forecast

How much does your city spend per person on snow removal?

Black Press Media compares 2018 ice and snow removal budgets of various Lower Mainland communities

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Surrey pastor in concert with songs from her new ‘Psalms for a Peaceful Heart’ CD

‘Incredible’ church sanctuary in Whalley a stage for Lori-Anne Boutin-Crawford’s music

Plan to redevelop former Surrey motel site too dense, says Coun. Pettigrew

Pettigrew: ‘We need to build liveable community with green spaces… not massive zones that are densified’

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Ex-Langley spiritual leader cleared of stock trading allegations

Investors allegedly lost $740,000 investing through a local religious organization.

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

Abbotsford man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read