Archive for July 7th, 2011

Jared Knight on expectations and the Brian Wilson obsession

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

WILMINGTON — Given that Tyler Seguin made it to the NHL as a rookie, only two of three Bruins’ pieces of the Phil Kessel deal were present at the open of development camp at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. While 2011 ninth overall pick Dougie Hamilton (the player chosen with the other first-round pick acquired in the trade) was surrounded by a large media scrum that lasted as long as the Bruins’ availability, Knight didn’t attract as much attention. This isn’t his first rodeo, so the getting-to-know-you stage of Knight’s relationship with the Bruins is a thing of the past.

The 32nd overall pick of the 2010 draft impressed in last year’s development camp and into the team’s training camp, the latter of which he was cut from on Sept. 24. After finishing the OHL season with 70 regular-season points (25 goals, 45 assists) and six more in the playoffs, Knight signed an amateur tryout agreement and played the final three of the games for Providence. He picked up a pair of assists in the AHL.

“Last year, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Knight recalled Thursday. “I was a little nervous coming in. This year, I’m a little nervous, but not as nervous as last year. I kind of knew what to expect.”

Now, the fans that have packed the stands at Ristuccia are a familiar sight. Knight could certainly compete for an NHL this year, but knows that there’s a time for that, and that it isn’t over the five-day development camp. Assistant general manager Don Sweeney has cautioned the players about over-thinking things, telling them “the Bruins are here to learn about you, and you’€™re here to learn about the Bruins and how we do things.” Back for a second time, it’s a message Knight has listened to.

“For me, this is my second time coming in here, so I have a little more experience. Really in development camp, you just come in and you try to work hard and try to show your best,” Knight said. “Sweeney said ‘You’re not coming here to make the team, you’re coming to make a good impression.’ That’s what I’m going to do, just work my hardest and just play hard.”

With the retirement of Mark Recchi and the free agent departure of Michael Ryder to the Stars, the signing of Benoit Pouliot means there remains a forward spot open heading into next year. While it could, in theory, be filled by a potential return of Marc Savard, it also means one of the youngsters could seize it themselves. Jordan Caron figures to play more than the 23 games at the NHL level he played a season ago, and in the spirit of healthy competition, the Bruins would have to be pleased with a group of their prospects making cases to play in Boston.

THE BRIAN WILSON OBSESSION

While Steven Kampfer and Seguin are both on Twitter, there is no better tweeter in the Bruins’ organization than Knight (@JKnight97). Interestingly enough, though, Knight does not even use a picture of himself to represent his account. Instead, it’s a picture of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson.

“I love Brian Wilson,” Knight said Thursday. “He’s a crazy guy. I love the way he pitches. Other than hockey players, he’s my favorite athlete. He’s pretty cool. He’s pretty weird. I watch some of his interviews. He’s kind of psycho.”

Knight’s idol doesn’t exactly come from far away, as Wilson hails from Londonderry, N.H. The Michigan native has yet to cross paths with Wilson, but perhaps with the notoriety of being an NHL player will come such an opportunity.

“I haven’t met him. That would be pretty cool to meet him,” Knight said. “That’s one thing I want to do, is meet him, because he’s just different than everyone else.”

Knight may be a big fan of Wilson’s, but he doesn’t seem willing to copy his look yet. Missing is the shoe-polish-colored beard on the clean-shaven 19-year-old.

“If I could grow a beard like him, I would grow something like that,” Knight said. “I can’t yet. Maybe one day.”

Bruins prospects used to fighting… each other

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

WILMINGTON — Some of the forwards at this week’s Bruins development camp could end up fighting for a spot on the Stanley Cup champions’ opening night roster. For some of the OHL players in town, the fight is nothing new. They’ve already fought each other.

The Bruins have some experienced dancers in camp in 2011 third-round pick Anthony Camara and 2009 sixth-rounder Tyler Randell. The two one another, as they are from the same area in Ontario and work out together back home. Before they knew they’d be in the same organization, they also knew each other from another experience, and it did not involve gloves.

The two squared off back on Jan. 15, when Randell’s Kitchener Rangers were playing Camara’s Saginaw Spirit. They dropped the gloves in the Kitchener zone in a fast-paced, spirited (no pun intended) bout.

“That was a bit of a weird fight,” Randell recalled Thursday. “We squared off. One of my teammates ended up tripping him up, so finally we got together and went down pretty quick.”

Camara wasn’t the only in-house dance partner of Randell, as the 6-foot-1, 195-pound Randell fought a rather unlikely opponent on Nov. 15 in right-wing prospect and 2010 32nd overall pick Jared Knight. There are certainly no hard feelings between any of the three players, and Knight and Randell actually sit next to each other in the Wilmington dressing room. Having their conversation interrupted with a question about the time they fought was something they didn’t mind.

“It was my only fight of the year, and it was against a heavyweight like him,” Knight said, slapping Randell on the back.

Halfway through the third period of a game in which Kitchener was crushing Knight’s London Knights by a 7-1 score, Knight gave Randell a little something along the half wall, and when Randell came back seconds later, the gloves came off.

“It was [7-1]. I didn’t really realize it was him,” Knight recalled with a grin. “I gave him a cross-check to the face, I think. He didn’t like it, so I dropped my gloves, he dropped his gloves and it wasn’t a very long fight. ‘€¦ It was [7-1], and there was probably no reason to fight, but I did it.”

Any past bouts between prospects are long forgotten by now, and if anything, they’re a good conversation piece for the players. Knight and Randell said they chatted with one another from the penalty box after their fight, and on Tuesday they laughed about the lack of actual punches exchanged.

“We know our role, and we know what we have to do,” Randell, who got in 21 scraps in the OHL last year, said. “You could be great friends or you can hate each other, and you still do the same job on the ice. When you’re off the ice, it’s a whole different world.”

Dougie Hamilton ready to wait for NHL, but needs weight for NHL

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

WILMINGTON — Ninth overall pick Dougie Hamilton is the second blue-chip NHL draft prospect in as many years to highlight the Bruins’ annual development camp, as he was the star at Ristuccia Arena Thursday, a year after Tyler Seguin came in as the No. 2 overall pick last summer. Unlike Seguin a year ago, Hamilton is not expected to make the NHL roster this season, and figures to head back to Niagara of the OHL for a third season. The Bruins’ defensive group is already more than full, with Steven Kampfer and Matt Bartkowski a likely training camp battle for the seventh spot. Given where the Bruins sit in the NHL and their defensive situation, Hamilton doesn’t figure to be overwhelmed with trying to force his way in.

“I don’t think there’s really any pressure,” Hamilton said Thursday at Ristuccia. “I want to be an NHL player, and I’m working as hard as I can to make that happen. I think whatever the staff wants to do with me, and whatever’s best for my development, I’m happy with that. I just want to be a dominant player in the NHL one day. Whatever it’s going to take is what I want to do.”

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the draft came when the Islanders passed on Hamilton’s service with the fifth overall pick last month. Their selection of Hamilton’s Niagara teammate in center Ryan Strome allowed the defenseman to fall to nine, where the B’s scooped him up with Toronto’s pick.

While joining the Bruins figures to cost him a shot at the NHL next season, their success has proven that he’s joining a team who have used their youngsters the right way.

“I think it just shows how well the staff does with their players,” he said. “If a team doesn’t have good prospects coming up and good players in their system, I guess they’re not doing something right. Boston’s obviously doing something right, and it’s good to be a part of that, and it’s going to be a fun couple of years to develop and become an NHL player.”

Coming off a 58-point season for the IceDogs, the most important for the 6-foot-5 defenseman figures to be weight. Weighing in the 190-pound range, the Toronto native clearly needs to bulk up before he can become the top-pairing blueliner he is projected to one day be.

“For sure [I need to gain weight],” Hamilton said. “I’ve gained a lot of weight this summer, and over the last couple of years I’ve grown so much. It’s kind of been hard to fill out and fill into my body. [There are] some uncoordinated points because of the growth, but right now I’m just trying to stay strong. I guess you don’t really need to be that big if you’re still strong. It would definitely be nice to put on some weight.”

Hamilton says that his target weight is somewhere in the neighborhood of 210-220 pounds.

“It’s kind of cool for me thinking about that,” Hamilton added, “just because it would allow me to a lot more dominant out there.”

Dominance is what the Bruins should one day expect from Hamilton. Though he does not yet look the part of a top defenseman, the lanky and bright-eyed teenager (he turned 18 last month) compares himself to Rob Blake, a comparison with which B’s general manager Peter Chiarelli agrees.

For now, Hamilton and the other newcomers to development camp are there to meet one another and make a good impression on the organization.

“[He’s] a big boy, moves really well for a kid that’€™s 6-foot-4,” B’s assistant GM Don Sweeney said Thursday. “I like his overall approach to the game. He looks like he wants to get up ice and is conscientious about his one-on-one play. It’€™s a small sample size, obviously, but based on all of our games we watched him play, he’€™s a well-rounded player that has a lot of room for continued development so we’€™re really excited to have him.”

Bruins development camp underway

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

WILMINGTON — Welcome back to Ristuccia Arena, where the Bruins are holding their annual development camp. All parties, including 2011 ninth overall pick Dougie Hamilton, are in attendance for a skate that commenced at 1:15 p.m. The youngsters underwent fitness testing earlier in the day.

One scary moment came when 2010 second-round pick Jared Knight collided with goalie Michael Hutchinson during a drill. Knight was fine, but Hutchinson remained down before leaving the ice. [UPDATE:] Assistant general manager Don Sweeney said after the skate that Hutchinson was “fine.”

The camp is set to run through Monday. Check back for more, as the players will meet with the media following the on-ice session.