Return of 'The Hamburglar': the storyline we didn't know we needed

Storylines don’t get much juicer than this. (Getty)
Storylines don’t get much juicer than this. (Getty)

After the Colorado Avalanche pulled off a stunning Game 5 win on the back of their third-string netminder, a hamburger emoji was trending on Twitter for the first time.

Well, not really, but you wouldn’t know if by the amount of burger love flooding social media late Friday night and into Saturday. It wasn’t a Wendy’s promotion, nor was it some made up ‘National Hamburger Day’ (though, that’s delicious). Oh no, it was all in honour of Andrew Hammond’s series-extending 44-save effort as the Avalanche pushed their first-round matchup with the Predators back to Colorado.

The man they call the Hamburglar is third on the team’s depth chart in goal, but a pair of injuries to starter Semyon Varlamov and No. 2 Jonathan Bernier, who went down in Game 4, paved the way for Hammond to start a do-or-die fifth game inside a raucous Bridgestone Arena in Nashville against the Presidents’ Trophy winners.

Some would say this is not an ideal situation to be tossed into for a goaltender with exactly 58 minutes in 2017-18, and has started just five NHL games over the past two years. Hammond, however — with the power of maybe the best nickname in sports on his side — wasn’t phased. The Hamburglar came in, casually stopped a career-high 44 of 45 shots (.978 Sv%), including 18 in the third period alone, and several 10-bell saves throughout the contest.

His last stop of the night, this point-blank larceny on sniper Filip Forsberg with a minute left in the third, was huge:

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The ‘Hamburglar’ moniker, as legend has it, was bestowed upon Hammond during his days at Bowling Green University, where he would routinely “steal games” — so his teammates gave him the spectacular nickname based on the old McDonald’s campaign.

His fast-food themed alias made its way into the mainstream during the 2014-15 season with the Senators, when Hammond appeared out of thin air after Ottawa’s first two netminders were sidelined. All he did was go a mind-blowing 20-1-2 with a .941 save percentage down the stretch while leading the Sens, who were all but done when Hammond took over, to the playoffs.

When word of Hammond’s college nickname started to spread and his legend continued to grow with every save, fans in Ottawa not only ate it up, they spread the wealth. Literal Hamburgers started regularly raining down onto the ice at Scotiabank Place after each Hammond win.

Now, of course the re-emergence of “The Hamburglar” raises the question: where does this nickname rank amongst the best in the NHL? After some in-depth research, a couple things were made clear. First, Hammond’s moniker is definitely in the top three and could even be the best. Secondly, all the best nicknames are based off food — and I’m cool with that.

Blue Jackets forward Artemi Panarin, AKA “Bread,” is nicknamed after the restaurant chain Panera Bread. Out west, Sharks blueliner Marc-Édouard Vlasic goes by the name “Pickles” based off of, well, Vlasic Pickles.

Those, along with The Hamburglar, are your contenders. Choose your flavour.

Aside from boasting potential GOAT-nickname status, Hammond is a calming, loveable figure on a squad which exhibits those exact traits through and through. During one of the biggest single-season turnarounds in NHL history, the Avalanche proved to be a youthful, fast, exciting squad who, on more nights than not, are damn fun too watch.

And Hammond is now a part of it.

The best chance for Colorado to steal this series against Nashville is with a guy in goal nicknamed after a hamburger thief. Storylines don’t get much juicier than that.

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