Edmonton Oilers rookie forward James Hamblin made a heartfelt tribute to his late mother after scoring his first-ever NHL goal. The 24-year-old forward displayed raw emotion on the ice against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday, creating a poignant moment for spectators.
After scoring his goal, Hamblin removed his mouthguard, kissed his glove, pounded his heart multiple times and gestured skyward while silently saying, "That's for you, Mom," as he looked upward. Hamblin's mother, Gina, died from cancer on Sept. 6, 2017.
The goal came at 8:31 of the first period, and you can watch it below:
In the post-game interview, Hamblin told the reporters:
"My initial thoughts went straight to my mom. I think I’ve had that celebration in the bank for a few years now."
In the days before her death, Hamblin, who went undrafted the previous year, was invited to the Boston Bruins development camp. Hamblin considered not going, but Gina wouldn't let him miss the chance. Six years later, Hamblin has played 16 NHL games and scored one memorable goal.
"It’s super special," Hamblin said. "I know she’s in my heart and on my back, it’s hard to not get emotional about it, but just really fortunate that went in."
The moving tribute by Hamblin highlights the deep bond between athletes and loved ones and the impact of family support on an NHL journey.
His first NHL goal, however, proved to be in vain, as the Oilers were beaten 6-4 on the night by the Lightning.
Edmonton Oilers' performance this season
The Edmonton Oilers are off to a challenging start to the 2023-2024 NHL season. They hold the seventh spot in the Pacific Division with a record of 5-10-1. The team has struggled to find consistency despite having captain Connor McDavid leading the talented roster.
One of the challenges faced by the Oilers this season is maintaining a defensive presence. They have allowed 61 goals while scoring only 47 goals per game. The team’s penalty kill has also been below average, with a success rate of 72.58, which places them 28th in the league.
Injuries have also played a role in hampering the Oilers progress this season. Key players like Ryan Fanti, Dylan Holloway and Mattias Janmark have spent time on the injured reserve list, affecting performance and team depth.
On a positive note, the Edmonton Oilers have shown flashes of brilliance in some games. They have managed impressive victories against teams like the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders. Furthermore, their power play has been effective, with a success rate of 25% surpassing league averages.