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The Calgary flames shipped out a top right-handed defenceman at the tender age of 25 on Saturday along with multi-tool forward Micheal Ferland and top defensive prospect Adam Fox to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for 23-year-old centre Elias Lindholm and young, left-handed blue-liner Noah Hanifin.
So why did the Flames flip Hamilton, arguably a top-10 NHL defenceman, and replace him with an opposite-handed, younger, currently inferior blueliner when Calgary is basically in a win-now mode? More than one insider have since suggested that it may be because of “chemistry issues” in the room.
OK, for starters it’s important to point out that this is a small snippet from a longer interview (which couldn’t be found on the 960 website as of this writing) mentioned in passing on Twitter. There is zero evidence that Hamilton’s big brain — he twice won the OHL’s academic player of the year award — or love for arts and culture were a problem with anybody inside the Flames dressing room. But it seems odd this story, which wasn’t used by Shannon as an attack on Hamilton’s character, would even be brought up if it wasn’t part of a bigger, more believable narrative about Hamilton’s fit on the team.
Here’s what Brad Treliving had to say about the deal, via Eric Francis of Sportsnet:
The Flames, well, they just upped the all-important character in their room by addition and subtraction.
“We’ve given up some pieces here but as the season ended and the summer progressed we wanted to look at changing the mix here,” said Treliving, who is now expected to weigh in heavily on the free agent market.
“We did some things here that addressed some issues. We love the players coming in – we think they’re young, smart, they’ve got skill. Good players left us, but you have to give to get.
He doesn’t straight up say that Hamilton was an issue in the room, but he did say he wanted to change up the mix and it seems unlikely that’s because of Hamilton’s play on the ice.
Take Francis’s report with a grain of salt (or the whole shaker), but there have been rumours swirling, going back almost a whole season, of Hamilton’s availability and some suggested that a lack of chemistry with some members of the club may have played a part in Calgary’s willingness to listen to offers for its productive blueliner. Francis also mentioned in the article that Hamilton wasn’t happy when the team waived his brother, Freddie, in January.
But back to museums. Like, would the Flames really trade a dude because he’s smart and maybe doesn’t spend every waking moment away from the rink with the same dudes he’s with for a large chunk of his day-to-day life? It’s hard to believe, but stranger stuff has happened. This one can really go either way, to be honest, so we might as well turn to Hockey Twitter which, as per usual, was full of thoughtful insight and analysis on the matter:
Yeah, I don’t know, this sounds goddamn ridiculous, and its something that will likely never be confirmed, but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibility that Hamilton was dealt out of Cow Town because his intellectual nature didn’t quite mesh with certain other core pieces of the roster — which is super messed up but is so completely and utterly NHL.
Hamilton, for the record, has posted double-digit goals and 40-plus points in each of his last four seasons while missing just one game since the the start of the 2015-16 campaign. He finished tops among Flames defencemen and fifth on the team in both goals and points last season, and only four blueliners — Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Victor Hedman and John Klingberg — finished with a higher points-per-60 clip than Hamilton.
What makes this so odd and this museum-speculation somewhat believable is that the Flames basically can only hope that Hanifin turns out to be the kind of defenceman that Dougie Hamilton currently is — minus all that brain and intelligence nonsense.