Hockey is a team game. There’s pressure because you want to play well for your teammates, but at the same time, we all make mistakes. Every hockey player knows it happens, but you’ve got teammates to pick you back up when things don’t go well out there. Being a Christ-follower has really helped me in the NHL, dealing with success as well as disappointments, bad plays and bad passes. Being a Christ-follower allows me to have a bigger perspective — a mentality of knowing that this is just a game. There are a lot of shifts in a hockey season; you’re never going to go 82-0 in a hockey season. There are tough times, but my faith has helped me through it.
Having a relationship with Jesus Christ doesn’t make things easy, it doesn’t make your life perfect. Christ-followers face a lot of difficulties in life — the same difficulties anyone would — but what helps you as a Christ-follower is knowing that God’s there for you. He knows you better than you know yourself and He’s there to help you.
One of the things that helped me was to take advantage of all the opportunities that are out there, whether that’s spending extra time on the ice, working with a skills coach, or working with a skating coach. These things make you a better hockey player. Off the ice, there are also great opportunities to take advantage of, such as chapel programs. The chapel program that I participated in during my first year as pro was key in my life as I was really searching for answers. Chapel was a place I was able to find those answers; my chaplain was a person who really challenged me to dig deeper in my faith.
From Milwaukee I went on to play six years in Nashville and the chapel program there was also great. The chapel there challenged me to take my faith from where I was in Milwaukee and grow it further. And as I started to mature in my faith, he challenged me to use the platform that I’ve been given in the NHL, where others look up to you, to share my faith. That was something I was not comfortable with at first — speaking in public — but I knew this message was too important to keep inside.
My faith continues to mature as I work it out, and I enjoy sharing it with others. I feel more and more comfortable sharing my faith publicly. There are so many opportunities to share! I have a platform in a city that loves hockey. They love to see what we are doing and what we have to say. It’s a responsibility but it’s also a privilege to share the message of Christ with those who want to hear.
I want to play to honor God. When I know I’m working hard and playing for HIm, I know God’s proud of me. That’s where I want to put my stock.
— Dan Hamhuis, Canadian hockey player