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Dougie Hamilton is (finally) rested, better coordinated and ready for more

WILMINGTON — Even though he didn’t play in the last two rounds of the playoffs, Dougie Hamilton played a ton of hockey last season.

Last summer, Hamilton went from development camp to the Canada-Russia Challenge to the OHL for the lockout, where he played 32 games. Then the lockout ended and he played 42 games in the 48-game regular season before playing seven postseason games as a rookie.

Hamilton, now 20, is obviously young enough to be able to bounce back from a long stretch of lots of hockey, but he admitted Wednesday that by the time he got to camp for his rookie NHL [1] season last year, he was “pretty worn down.”

So, in an effort to not overdo it, Hamilton said he did what he could to not only not play, but not even think about hockey in the offseason. He trained hard in the short time and continued in his quest to put on a little more weight, but Hamilton said he didn’t look at tape of his play as a rookie or rush to get on the ice early in the summer.

“I just kind of try to forget about hockey for a little bit, and I think you’ve got to be able to come in motivated and hungry,” he said.

That’s not to suggest Hamilton, who made his first appearance at captains practice on Wednesday, isn’t eager to begin his second NHL [2] season. However, after what was probably the busiest stretch of his hockey life (development camp in July, the Canada-Russia challenge in August followed by a long season between Niagara and Boston that went well into June), he tried to get hockey off his mind.

“As a kid, I would always take a break and play other sports,” he said. “I think it’s hard to continuously play. You guys probably feel the same with your jobs. You need to get away from it a bit. I think just going back home, you’re already away from it. Just being away from the team, it makes it feel better when you come back.”

Hamilton will return as the youngest player on the Bruins, but he’s also no longer a rookie. Asked what he needs to work on to become a better player now that he’s a veteran, he joked that he still needs to “get older.”

He said he hasn’t reflected much on his rookie season — he’s definitely the type to look ahead and not back — but he does come in motivated to not let what happened last season happen again. Fellow rookies Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski proved more valuable (or maybe just more left-shooting) than him, and as a result Hamilton watched the Eastern Conference finals and Stanley Cup [3] finals from the press box as a healthy scratch.

“I think you’re doing what’s best for the team, and if that’s what we needed to win, then I was fine with that,” he said. “I think obviously you want to be playing and being on the ice, and of course you spent the summer working your hardest so that you’ll be playing and not sitting out.”

Hamilton, who stands at a what-would-be-towering-if-Zdeno-Chara-weren’t-on-the-team 6-foot-5, didn’t look noticeably bigger on the ice or in person Wednesday, but then again he didn’t have a whole lot of time to bulk up. He wouldn’t reveal how much weight he’s put on (“It’s a secret,” he said with a grin) but he did say the biggest thing he took away from the offseason was getting more comfortable in a frame he hasn’t had for too long.

Remember, Hamilton was still growing as the Bruins were scouting him leading up the 2011 draft, so he spent a good chunk of his workouts focusing on agility and trying to become more coordinated. After all, size is only good if it’s used well.

“[I’m] the most coordinated I’ve been since my growth,” he said. “I can kind of see a change in that. I’ve become a lot more coordinated and gotten a lot quicker in my speed and stuff.

“I still think I need to fill out. I’m not at that point yet, but I started to a little bit. It’s been tough the last couple years with growing so much, especially a couple years ago. Now, just doing sprints and stuff, you can kind of feel like your body’s there and not kind of around you.”