by Mike Benton, Special to SJSHARKS.comPENTICTON, Canada
– Growing up, San Jose Sharks forward prospect Freddie Hamilton
can never seem to escape it.
He watches it on television.
He finds himself immersed in it with brother, Dougie.
What else would you expect from a man who comes from a family that played competitive sports for a living?
“There’s a lot of talk about sports in our family,” said Hamilton, selected by the Sharks in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. “We all watch any sport on TV. Growing up, my brother and I used to go to a lot of competitions and my dad and mom were still involved in sports when they were done – going to Pan Am Games. Just being around sports in general was really motivating.”
Sports fueled the Hamilton family passions. It’s helped create the athlete and prospect label that Hamilton has evolved with, as he continuously climbs the ladder of the hockey world.
His father, Doug, performed as an accomplished Olympic Rower for Team Canada. His mother, Lynn, played on Canada’s basketball team at the 1984 Olympics. Adding to that list is Dougie, who was selected by the Boston Bruins in the first round (9th overall) of this year’s NHL Entry Draft.
“Growing up, my brother and I were fortunate to have the parents we do,” said Hamilton. “They were able to help us with their background. They taught us what it takes to be an athlete. Having him has helped me, the whole way up.”
The fifth round selection of the Sharks is making his second consecutive trip to Penticton in the YoungStars Tournament, focused on developing a two-way identity and slick skating ability.
Based on accomplishments in the last season, the future appears to be bright for the 5-foot-11, 179 pound center who built a rock-solid 2010-11 campaign with the Niagara Ice Dogs. In 68 games, Hamilton posted 83 points and 38 goals, experiencing a 28 point hike from his previous season.
For the second straight preseason, a man helping with the development process is a familiar face to Hamilton and Sharks fans – Mike Ricci. He’s been spotted on the ice with Hamilton in development and rookie camps with other forward prospects, continuously chiseling away with drills.
"The staff in San Jose is amazing,” said Hamilton. “I've learned more in those two development camps than I have most of my life in hockey." Having guys like Mike Ricci and Bryan Marchment, who have played in NHL a long time and are really successful in the NHL - just the little things they can tell you really helps.”
According to Sharks Executive Vice President and General Manager Doug Wilson, the potential is there for Hamilton.
“He’s a really good hockey player,” said Wilson. “I say this in a positive way – sometimes he needs to be a little more selfish. He gets a scoring opportunity to take himself but he’s a guy that people love to play with. He’s got details right across the board about his game, and he’s a guy we have high expectations for.”
Not just the Sharks, but perhaps his own country will be counting on him soon. The native of Toronto is one of many hopefuls to make Team Canada’s squad at the 2012 World Junior Championships. Most recently, he skated in Team Canada’s summer development camp at Rexall Place in Edmonton.
His brother and former street hockey playmate, Dougie, joined him at the development camp. With two siblings to fill different roles – Dougie’s as an offensive defenseman and Freddie’s as a versatile forward with penalty kill and faceoff winning abilities, the two form a practical pair that fits the level of competition suitable for the Hamilton household.
With a mother and father who have competed in international competition, why not the Hamilton brothers too?
Per the advice of his family, Freddie acknowledged mental fortitude, instead of athleticism, as the ultimate building block of a successful athlete.
“You have to have the desire in you,” said Hamilton. “You have to want to be a pro. Ever since we were little they wanted us to do what we love doing, and that was hockey. They said to keep trying as hard as we could in whatever we like doing. Having them for motivation has really helped."
As he strives for prominence in international competition and in the Sharks organization, it’s certainly all in the family.