Andrew Hammond (Mike Stobe / NHLI via Getty Images)
Andrew Hammond has been one of the best stories of the season, skyrocketing from relative obscurity to hero status in Ottawa. Sooner or later, this tremendous run will end and the question is what becomes of the Hamburglar after it does? History says he has his work cut out.
In 2015, McDonald’s would not create a mascot called the Hamburglar. The character glamorizes theft and sets a bad example for our kids. Fortunately, the patty-thieving villain was conceived in the morally bankrupt 1970s, when we didn’t think of the children, and as result we have the perfect nickname for the NHL’s current best story. Aside from the dead animal products being hurled onto the ice, what’s not to like about this stunning underdog? (Bruins and Panthers fans notwithstanding). Once this glorious joy ride ends, however, what will become of Andrew Hammond? Is he a flash in the burger-frying pan or the real meal deal? While we’re pulling for the latter, history tells us not to bet our lunch money on it.
We scanned the list of NHL all-rookie team goalies since the honor’s inception in 1983. (We know Hammond isn’t Calder-eligible due to his age, 27, but the list still serves as a good barometer). For every Patrick Roy, Henrik Lundqvist and Ed Belfour – guys who were either late picks or UFAs – there’s an Andrew Raycroft, Steve Penney and Sebastien Caron among the all-frosh stoppers, guys who never quite met the expectations they’d raised by their play in Year 1. Further, of the UFAs and late-round diamonds, none slipped through the prospect net to the extent of Hammond. Roy was 20 when he broke in with the Habs. Belfour 23 when he saw appreciable time in the Hawks crease. Lundqvist started making a name for himself on Broadway at 23. Dominik Hasek was 28 when he began his phenomenal run in Buffalo, but he’d already been a shining star in the Czech Republic and gotten a taste of the NHL in Chicago. That said, while the odds aren’t in Hammond’s favor, it’s not out of the realm of possibility – there is precedent. A couple goalies on whom Sens’ fans may want to hang their hopes are former rivals, Tim Thomas and Ryan Miller. Thomas started winning with regularity in Boston at 32 after toiling in the minors and Europe for years. Miller, the 138th overall pick in 1999, broke through in Buffalo at 25. Then there’s Miikka Kiprusoff, a fifth-rounder in 1995, who was 27 when he started shining for Calgary. Here's hoping the Hamburglar joins the large minority and sticks around a while. If nothing else, think of how happy it would make the children.
(The following are the rookie goalies since the honor's inception in 1983. Information includes the team on which they played as a freshman, where they were selected overall, their age at the conclusion of their rookie-team season and NHL games played. Everyone from Henrik Lundqvist onwards – denoted in red – is active in the NHL; the remainder are retired or playing in Europe).