Phil Kessel trade comes full circle as Dougie Hamilton faces hometown Maple Leafs
|02.01.13 at 3:31 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins rookie Dougie Hamilton will experience a couple of firsts Saturday night against the Maple Leafs. Not only will it be his first time facing the team he grew up for rooting in their building, but it will be the first time he faces Phil Kessel.
Were it not for Kessel, Hamilton probably wouldn’t be a Bruin — instead, he’d likely be a Maple Leaf. The ninth overall pick in 2011, Hamilton was the second of two first-round picks traded from the Leafs to the B’s in 2009 in exchange for Kessel. The other one was 2010 second overall pick Tyler Seguin, and Saturday will mark the first time that all three players take the same ice at the same time.
Though their careers have yet to fully play out, the trade has been viewed as lopsided in the Bruins’ favor, based on the elite talent they were able to net in Seguin and Hamilton. Both players are Ontario natives who grew up Leafs fans (Seguin hails from Brampton, while Hamilton is a Toronto native), so watching a pair of local stars play big roles for the rival Bruins is a tough thing for fans of the Maple Leafs to do.
“It’s cool,” Hamilton said his connection to the Leafs. “It doesn’t really mean anything to me. I wasn’t really part of the trade. I was just the pick I guess. I don’t really think about it, I don’t really care about it, so it doesn’t really matter.”
So far this season, Kessel, Seguin and Hamilton each have four points, with Seguin’s empty-netter against the Hurricanes Monday the only goal scored between them. Last season, Seguin was a Leafs-killer with seven goals with four assists in six games against Toronto, so perhaps Seguin can pick up his first real goal of the season and then some on Saturday. If Bruins fans want to get greedy, perhaps Hamilton could score the first goal of his NHL career against Kessel and the Leafs.
While Hamilton understands that he will always be connected to the Kessel trade, he is more excited to take the ice at Air Canada Centre, especially as a visitor.
“I guess I always dreamt of playing for the Leafs, but I think as I’ve gotten older, I think it will be cooler to be on the other side,” he said.
While one would think the 19-year-old would have plenty of friends and family hounding him for tickets to his homecoming, Hamilton insisted that while he’ll have a few family members in the stands, his friends will have to find their own way in.
“They’re getting their own tickets,” he said. “It makes it easier on me.”
As for things in Boston, they’ve been pretty good for Hamilton. The 19-year-old has fit in quite nicely for the B’s, as his four assists are tied for second on the team, as are his 21 shots on goal.
It’s only been seven games, but Hamilton has been through the hype machine that comes with being a top-10 pick coming into a big market, and when asked about the “Dougie mania” that’s been going on — the chants, the playing of Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How To Dougie,” etc. — he said he’s quite all right with it.
“I think for me,” he said, “I’m just going day by day and just trying to enjoy myself and have fun.
“I don’t mind the Dougie mania,” he added with a grin. “It’s OK with me.”