PENTICTON, B.C. - Freddie Hamilton
can't recall a time where sports could have been a topic excluded from the dinner table.
As a member of the San Jose Sharks rookie tournament roster at the 2010 YoungStars Tournament in Penticton, the path to putting on an NHL jersey has included the well-traveled road involving the passions of hockey, basketball and even rowing that round out his sports-passionate family from Toronto.
“I was always around the Canadian flag and around sports,” said Hamilton. “Even though my parents didn't play hockey, my parents’ involvement in the general sports world helped me. Whether it's preparation or seeing how well they did, that drove me to help see if I can achieve some of my goals too.”
His father, Doug, was a two-time rower for Canada at the Olympics, taking a bronze medal in the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. His mother, Lynn, was a guard for Canada's basketball squad and eventually took gold and bronze medals at the World Championships.
Coming full circle, it was Hamilton who was officially ushered into the pro hockey world in the same city, 26 years later, when the Sharks selected him as the 129th overall selection (fifth round) in the NHL Entry Draft.
Combining his father's strength in rowing and mother's athleticism in basketball, his goal is to take last season's 25-goal, 55-point output in 65 games with Niagara of the Ontario Hockey League and fuel his ambitions of eventually finding a full-time job with the Sharks forwards.
“I got some of my skill from my mom and I was able to develop the strength and aerobics that my dad achieved in rowing,” said Hamilton. “Basketball is more of a skilled sports and rowing is more of a tough aerobic sport.”
As a player who is branding his cerebral, two-way game in the OHL as one of the league's premier faceoff men, there should be no problem for Hamilton in relating to Sharks of the past in the toughness column.
One icon, Mike Ricci, now with the Sharks as Development Coach, has served his time in Penticton guiding the aspiring Sharks on the ice, additionally using as many laps around the ice during warmups as possible to insert words of wisdom.
“He's helped out a lot for me personally,” said Hamilton. “He's a tough, hard working player and I think I play like that too. He's been there to help and he's encouraged me to compete all the time. He likes players who work hard all the time, whether it's the faceoff circle, offensive zone or defensive zone.”
“He's a young guy who has to work on everything,” said Ricci. “He's a good kid, a guy who wants to learn and he's very fun to be around, for myself. We're just trying to get him into every piece of the game and help teach him out there. He's a reliable kid – he'll be a very good faceoff man when it's all said and done.”
“To say that we're trying to work with him on one or two things would be wrong. We're trying to fully load him with a bunch of info. He's been a lot of fun to be around.”
The ability to stay less than wide-eyed has been a challenge for Hamilton, who compared the first time he slipped on a Sharks jersey, Sunday night in a 4-1 tournament opening win against the Anaheim Ducks, to the magnitude of competing in Canada's under-18 team at the IIHF World Under-18 Championships.
“I was a little nervous for both,” said Hamilton.
It's yet another story to tell within the sports-crazed Hamilton family, who hopes to soon add the words “Shark Tank experience.”