Less than a week after signing a two-year contract with the Stars, defenseman Dan Hamhuis arrived in Dallas Thursday, getting a tour of the team’s practice facility in Frisco and meeting some of the staff.
“We are really excited to be a part of the Stars organization,” Hamhuis said. “Happy to be able to come down here quite soon after the signing; to be around the city and get a feel for it – it’s my wife’s first time down here – to get a tour of the facilities and for this all to sink in. I’ve been in Vancouver for quite a while and to have a change after six years is different. We are excited about this organization, where this team is at, and it’s been great meeting all the staff so far.”
Hamhuis signed with the Stars in free agency on July 1. The signing came a little more than four months after Hamhuis waived his no-trade clause to pave the way for a possible trade to Dallas at last season’s trade deadline. It was a trade that didn’t happen, but Hamhuis still had his eye on the Stars.
“As we neared free agency and started looking at different options, Dallas was right at the top of the list and right from the trade deadline kind of on our minds, and we were following a little more closely,” Hamhuis said. “When Jim called me the week before free agency to talk about the team we were excited to hear what he had to say and the chance to win here.”
Once Hamhuis signed with the Stars, it didn’t take long for Dallas players to reach out to him.
“I’ve had numerous texts from players, phone calls from players welcoming me to the team,” Hamhuis said. “My wife has been contacted by a number of the wives as well. It’s been a very welcoming environment.”
The Stars brought Hamhuis on board to add some experience to a blue line that is expected to be younger this coming season. Five of the eight defensemen on the roster right now are 24-years-old or younger. The 33-year-old Hamhuis has played 872 NHL games with Nashville and Vancouver and playing with younger guys is nothing new.
“When I was in Nashville, I wasn’t too old, but I partnered a lot with younger players. And it was the same as I went through my years in Vancouver,” Hamhuis said. “So, it’s a role I’ve had in the past, am really comfortable with and enjoy. I enjoy helping these guys along to learn what it is like to play in the NHL. It’s tough to get here, but it is even tougher to stay. It’s those habits and the day-to-day things that can make you a better player, and the ultimate goal is winning the Cup.”
Along with experience, Hamhuis brings a strong defensive game to the table. He’s an excellent penalty killer as well.
“The strength of this team is the offensive power, and I am hoping what I can bring to the team is sound defensive presence,” Hamhuis said. “I think that is a role and the way I have played through my career. I take a lot of pride in my defensive game, kind of a defense first.”
The Dallas defense will have a much different look this coming season. Gone are Alex Goligoski, Jason Demers, and Kris Russell. Hamhuis will join John Klingberg, Johnny Oduya, Stephen Johns, Jordie Benn, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak and Esa Lindell on the 2016-17 Dallas defense.
“It’s going to be different because we are getting younger. We are getting bigger and faster on the backend. It’s definitely going to be different, and that’s what we are excited about,” said Stars GM Jim Nill. “Since I’ve been here we’ve talked about how we’ve got this young defense coming. Now it is their time. Things didn’t just get thrown against the wall. This has been the plan, and we’ve still got a veteran presence there.”
A veteran presence that now includes Dan Hamhuis.
“He’s a good person to start with. He’s a good hockey player,” Nill said. “I think he is going to be a big addition and really help our team.”
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.