Ottawa Senators’ goalie Andrew Hammond, the “Hamburglar.”

Fatherly advice spurs Sens’ coach’s faith in the Hamburglar

By  Alistair Burns, Canadian Catholic News
  • April 15, 2015

In professional hockey, fans call for the coach’s head during a losing streak. When Ottawa Senators head coach Dave Cameron faced this dilemma in February, he received winning advice from his parish priest.

Halfway through that month, the Senators were nine points out of a playoff spot. Starting goalie Craig Anderson? Injured. Backup Robin Lehner? Concussed. What was Cameron to do?

He has his pastor to thank for some timely advice. Msgr. Joseph Muldoon, pastor of Holy Spirit parish in Ottawa, saw the light (of inspiration) before Mass. He saw Cameron in his pew and ran over to him just before the opening procession.

“Dave, play the kid, play the kid,” Muldoon counselled.

The “kid,” Andrew Hammond, was an undrafted goalie from White Rock, B.C., playing with the Senators’ farm team in Binghamton, N.Y. Since then, the Senators have stormed back from oblivion, and on the final weekend of the regular season secured a spot in the National Hockey League playoffs, where the Sens are taking on the Montreal Canadiens (the series began after The Register’s press time).

“I fell into this by accident,” said Muldoon, explaining his fatherly advice.

Hammond’s play has been sensational. He tied an NHL record set in 1938 by the late Boston Bruins goalie Frank “Mr. Zero” Brimsek. Hammond and Brimsek did not allow more than two goals per game in their first 12 NHL starts.

“They’re protecting (Hammond) much more than Anderson,” the priest explained.

Hammond has a nickname of his own, the “Hamburglar,” after the fictional McDonald’s character who steals hamburgers.

“It’s a great story,” admitted Claude Julien, Boston’s head coach, after the Sens beat the Bruins. The Professional Hockey Writers’ Association agreed, nominating Hammond for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to a player who exemplifies “perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication.”

While Muldoon grew up a Toronto Maple Leafs fan before the Senators franchise rejoined the NHL in 1992, he now roots for Ottawa. In his brief interactions with the mild-mannered Cameron, the Senators bench boss has nicknamed him “Coach” in return.

In another brief huddle, the pastor coached, “Continue to play Hammond and play (Mike) Hoffman,” a left-winger having a breakout season.

The advice led to another Sens win. The pastor prays for on-ice victories and for the “spirit of fair play.” He encourages confirmation students to pray for the players to use teamwork.

Muldoon was aware of the privileged position he had with Cameron. “Everyone’s been thinking what I’ve been saying. They just don’t have a venue.”

Since Hammond does not have a contract yet for next year, Cameron joked to the Ottawa Citizen, “imagine the negotiating power if God’s on his side? That might be the biggest contract in the history of Ottawa.”

Muldoon last saw Cameron at Easter, when Cameron said, “Keep up the prayers.”

“Keep the kid in net,” Muldoon replied.

(B.C. Catholic)

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