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HAMONIC-BRODIE DUO EXCITED FOR THE FUTURE

The pair are hoping working together ahead of training camp helps build plenty of chemistry

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Already, before spending so much as an actual practice or a game in each other's company, they find themselves fused in the imagination.

Like Bert and Ernie. Trots and Boss. Kareem and Magic. Love and marriage. Abercrombie and Fitch. Lennon and McCartney. 

Sidekicks making up a single entity:

Travis and TJ.

"If it's what the coaches decide to do, I'll consider myself pretty lucky,'' says new boy Travis Hamonic of a highly-anticipated defensive collaboration alongside TJ Brodie.

"The way he skates, his decisiveness and ability to handle the puck, how he gets back in the play and up in the rush.

"Makes my job easier.

"I'd be pretty fortunate."

As soon as the Flames announced their swoop for the 27-year-old rock-ribbed New York Islanders' mainstay on June 24th at the NHL Draft in Chicago, the tantalizing possibilities of a Harmonic-Brodie tandem had Flames' faithful in full swoon.

Complementing the pairing of Mark Giordano and Dougie Hamilton, Hamonic-Brodie should provide a bookend set of 1 and 1A pairings.

 A Big 4 in the truest sense of the term.

"We've got a lot of good d-men here, more than just four,'' corrects Brodie. "So there are lots of possibilities. It's one of those things - who meshes better with who, who finds a groove, gets some confidence and runs with it."

General manager Brad Treliving paid high to nab Hamonic, surrendering first- and second-round picks from next summer's draft along with a seconder in either 2019 or 2020.

Just wishing for a match-made-in-heaven doesn't necessarily make it so, of course. Rapport is built, not ordained. You don't just - voila! - become Niedermayer and Stevens or Murphy and Coffey or Robinson and Lapointe by simply lining up together.

"It's going to take some time to get used to each other,'' Brodie cautions.

"Sometimes you only need a couple of games, sometimes it takes weeks and sometimes longer. We're really not going to know until the season gets going.

"With Gio, that connection happened pretty quick. We were put together later in the season. We played together for a while then trained with each other in the summer and it just kind of went from there.

"I'd watched him since I got drafted, admired the way he played. Such an easy guy to read off of."

Stylistically, the pair seem ideally suited: Brodie's innate offensive instincts, skimming across the surface of the ice as if he were riding a customized hovercraft; Hamonic's combination of flint and finesse.

The two have been working on their camaraderie during structured but informal on-ice sessions at WinSport over the past week, with an eye to the opening of training camp Friday.

"(Hamonic) is just a great all-around defenceman,'' says Brodie. "Tough to find a flaw. Just skating with him a little while out here … it's not game-intensity or anything but he skates really well, good first pass and knows how to locate space which makes it easy for everyone on the ice.

"You get a puck and he's trying to find pockets to get into."

Video: The Hamonic's can't wait to move to Calgary

They'll certainly receive every opportunity to make a success of it.

"Every player's different,'' says Hamonic. "We all have parts of the game we're better at. When I look around the league there are similarities between players but each one brings something different, something special, to the mix.

"You try and mesh your game with another person. Each guy has attributes that make him valuable. It takes a bit of time, whoever you are.

"And if that's the case, if TJ and I are playing together, I'll certainly know my role. Play to my strengths. Allow him to play to his."

Hamonic and wife Stephanie hosted her dad's 60th birthday bash out east in Manitoba before arriving in Calgary to begin this new adventure.

"Getting here as soon as we could,'' he says, "was by design.

"You want a few days to get settled into the new house, get sorted out and start learning your way around, adjust to the city.

"As far as hockey, it's important to be around here for 10-12 days before training camp starts, get accustomed to your teammates as well as the staff, Too much time together is never a bad thing, especially when you're the new guy.

"I'm so grateful to my wife. She did most - not most, all - of the heavy lifting this summer. Back and forth from Winnipeg to Calgary. A short flight but she was here a lot, finding a house, getting us set up.

"Those things are new to me. Hopefully this is the last time we'll ever have to do them."

Settled into a new life and soon a new on-ice partnership.

Like Pooh and Piglet. Green Eggs and Ham. Montana and Rice. Smith & Wesson. Starsky and Hutch.

Or, might to be too much to hope for, even Giordano and Brodie?

TJ and Travis. Fused already in the imagination and, the Flames are banking, on the ice, too.

"Playing in New York, I saw quite a few Western Conference games on TV because they were late,'' Hamonic recalls.

"So I found myself watching the Flames a lot. The way Dougie, Gio and Brods played … pretty tough not to be impressed.

"Those are three of the best in the league. No doubt in my mind. I said it before I got traded here and I say it now, too.

"I'm pretty lucky, actually. I don't have to go very far, just walk into my own locker room, to see great defencemen."

Or simply cast a sideways glance at the guy right beside him, skimming across the surface of the ice as if he were riding a customized hovercraft.

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