|Dougie Hamilton embraces more physical play in NHL||01.20.13 at 5:01 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton may have had to wait a little too long to make his Bruins debut, but now that it’s come and gone he’s just happy to officially be an NHL defenseman.
Hamilton, who spent the first few months of the season playing junior hockey in the OHL and the World Junior Championships, took his first NHL shift with the Bruins on the power play early in the first period. Before that, he was welcomed with one of the loudest receptions in the pre-game player introductions, accompanied with massive sprays of fog as he stepped onto the Garden ice.
“It was pretty cool, just with the smoke or fog or whatever that was,” Hamilton said. “It’s pretty cool to go out there, and you don’t really hear much of the cheering, but it’s pretty cool to go out and look around and realize that your dream has come true.”
Hamilton finished last among Bruins defensemen with 13:40 of ice time, but he played 4:25 on the power play and registered two shots on goal and three hits on the night with an even rating.
It may be a big adjustment from junior hockey to the NHL, but Hamilton is embracing the physical challenge that comes with it. At 6-foot-5, Hamilton felt that he couldn’t play a physical game at the junior level without getting penalized. He felt he had the opportunity to use his body more to his advantage Saturday against the bigger-bodied Rangers.
“I thought that was fun, just getting hit by those big guys and having them come at you and just being able to hit them too,” he said. “It’s a little bit different in junior when you can’t do much or they’re smaller than you, so I thought that was a pretty fun part of the game.”
Claude Julien agreed that Hamilton may have been at a disadvantage in the OHL given his size, and that he shouldn’t have to worry about it in the NHL.
“I experienced it in juniors coaching [6-foot-5 defenseman] Jiri Fischer at the time; he was the same kind of player, he was in the box a lot in junior because he was so much stronger than everybody else. And when I watched Dougie play this year in junior if there’s one thing you could tell was his size, you know at 6-foot-5 and in the corners he had to watch himself because again they’re not as strong. If he wasn’t careful he’d end up in the box.
“Here he doesn’t have to hold back, and I think he’ll be able to play more to his strength and it will certainly help his game. Like I said, he needed to move on and I think what he’s done here is enough for him to stay here at the time being.”
|Dougie Hamilton ready for NHL debut||01.19.13 at 12:20 pm ET|
It’s cliche to say that every young hockey player dreams of one day being in the NHL, but it’s true. Dougie Hamilton will finally realize his dream when he takes the ice Saturday night at TD Garden against the Rangers.
Hamilton, 19, comes into the NHL with some big expectations. The 6-foot-5 blueliner was drafted with the ninth overall pick in 2011 and dominated the OHL last season with 72 points (17 goals, 55 assists) in 50 games.
Maybe Hamilton will deal with nerves (often times veterans will tell young players to try to hit someone as soon as possible on their first shift to get it out of their system and get comfortable), or maybe there will just be excitement. Hamilton doesn’t know exactly what it will feel like, but he’s guessing he’ll like it.
“I’m sure I’ll have a smile on my face,” Hamilton said after Saturday’s morning skate. “It’s a dream come true for me. The opportunity is really special, and I’m just going to enjoy it as much as I can.”
Hamilton’s parents will be in town for the Ontario native’s debut after catching brother Freddie Hamilton‘s game for the Worcester Sharks Friday night. Dougie didn’t go to Friday’s Worcester game, electing to rest up for what figures to be a big day. Though he may have felt like a kid on Christmas Eve, Hamilton said he “slept great.”
Claude Julien hasn’t hidden the fact that he has quite a bit of faith in the 19-year-old. In addition to putting him on an important pairing with Dennis Seidenberg, Julien has trusted Hamilton with a spot on the team’s second power-play unit.
This is the same coach who took heat (much of it unfair) for not playing Tyler Seguin enough on the power play in his rookie year, but Julien clearly likes what Hamilton brings to the table even as a rookie, and he wants to see as much of it right away as possible.
If the mistakes come from the rookie, they come. Julien would rather Hamilton play his game and learn as he goes than take a timid approach.
“If he’s still here, it’s because he’s good enough to play,” Julien said of Hamilton. “I think you’ve got to allow players to go out there and play. You’ve heard me say that before: Go out there and play. I’d rather pull him back than have to push him. So he’s got to go out there with confidence, and he’s got to go out there knowing that we have the confidence in him, and just play his game.”
Hamilton projects to be a top-pairing defenseman one day and has drawn comparisons to former Norris Trophy winner Rob Blake. He still needs to fill out his frame (he’s a bit lanky at 199 pounds, though both Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara have each gained 20 or more pounds since coming into the league as rookies) and adjust to the physical demands of the league, among other things, but Julien looks at Hamilton’s game and sees NHL experience as the only thing missing.
“He’s a pretty good all-around defenseman. What he’s got to do is gain some experience, and that will only come with time,” Julien said. “I think we all know he’s got the size, we all know he can move the puck well. We all know he skates well, we all know he’s got great hockey sense, so where is his weakness? I don’t think he has a weakness more than the only weakness he has is his lack of experience. We’ve got to allow him to get that.
“We like where he is, we like what he’s brought so far, and you’ve seen lots of guys come in the league the same way he has and do well, and we expect him to be that guy.”
|Ray Bourque on M&M: Dougie Hamilton ‘a little bit like I was at that age’||01.16.13 at 2:19 pm ET|
Bruins legend Ray Bourque talked with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the end of the NHL lockout, his son’s play at Bruins camp, and Dougie Hamilton‘s situation as a promising teenage defenseman.
Through Celebrities for Charities, Bourque is sponsoring a raffle in which the winner gets to watch the Bruins’ season-opener with him and his family — an opportunity many Bruins fans would love no matter what, but even more so considering that Chris Bourque could be taking the ice.
“He is so excited about the opportunity,” Bourque said of his son. “This kid grew up in the old Garden and the FleetCenter and the new Garden, skating. I’d bring him to the rink as much as as I could, two, three times a week, and he’d start skating. He was on skates at 2½. Chris and his brother Ryan ran around that room and drove the trainers crazy for many, many years. To put that Bruins jersey on last night [in the Bruins' scrimmage against the AHL Providence Bruins] and go out and play in the Garden was a real thrill for him.
“I wasn’t at the game last night — I actually went and saw my younger son Ryan play in Portland as part of the Rangers’ farm team — but I’m really excited and hoping to see [Chris] this weekend. And I got a lot of texts saying he played well and did a good job.”
Bourque also weighed in on Hamilton, who will try to establish himself as a high-scoring 19-year-old Bruins defenseman this year, just as Bourque himself once did.
“The position is not an easy one to play in the NHL at a young age,” Bourque said. “But I’ve got to say, he’s coming into such a good situation, just like I did. I didn’t come in with an expansion team or where expectations are for you to carry a load, to be the savior. He’s just here to do his job and play his game, and his game is a very good game.
“He’s got a lot of talent, he’s got great size, he’s got all the tools. Who knows how it’s going to start, but this kid could play for the Bruins for many many years. It’s a comfortable situation to come into as a young guy you’re supported by so many veterans. Guys like [Zdeno] Chara and [Dennis] Seidenberg and their whole defense corps are very solid and such great veterans in how they go about their business and how they prepare and all that stuff. For a young guy to see that and to live that, there’s no better situation to be in, and I know they’re going to be right there in terms of support for him and giving him advice. Just watching with your own eyes and seeing how they’re doing their job will be great for him.
“I met him the other night. He was at my restaurant, Tresca, and he was coming out. Very quiet, very shy, a little bit like I was at that age. I just spoke to him for a little bit and look forward to talking with him more. He’s excited about the opportunity. I think we’re going to see him around this year, but many, many years to come, we’re going to see this guy and he’s going to be a big part of the Bruins.”
WILMINGTON — Bruins rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton has been paired with Dennis Seidenberg from the start of training camp, and with little time to mix and match in a shortened camp, it would appear that the two will be partners as the season opens this weekend.
Claude Julien did his best to pump the brakes on the buzz the pairing has created, saying Wednesday that while the two are partners for now, there’s still the possibility that Hamilton will play with another B’s blueliner in the coming days or weeks.
“You put those guys with the guys you know you can trust, but this is just a start,” Julien said. “I don’t want anybody thinking that it’s carved in stone that that’s his partner. You’re probably going to see throughout the year pairs moved around a little bit, but certainly he can benefit from the wisdom of those veteran players around him.”
Julien did say that he’s liked the job that Seidenberg, 31, has done helping the 19-year-old along.
“Any time a young player plays with a veteran you can gain a lot, especially if the veteran is a good veteran that will share his experience, his expertise with the player and help calm him down when maybe he gets running around a little bit or he gets uptight, whether it’s on the bench or on the ice. Coaches do a lot, but a teammate with some experience can do a lot as well.”
Though Hamilton and Seidenberg seem to be the pairing for now, it wouldn’t be crazy for the B’s to try to get some games out of the usually reserved-for-playoffs pairing of Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara early on. That would certainly be an easy way to prevent getting off to a slow start in the 48-game season.
|Bruins get to work on power play||01.14.13 at 10:23 am ET|
WILMINGTON — The second day of training camp meant addressing a common source of frustration for the Bruins, as they worked on the power play in anticipation of the upcoming season.
The B’s, who finished 20th in power play efficiency (scoring 16.2 percent of the time) in 2010-11 and 15th (17 percent) last season, used the following units, with Rich Peverley and Gregory Campbell mixing into the first unit:
PP1: Zdeno Chara, David Krejci, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic
PP2: Dennis Seidenberg, Dougie Hamilton, Chris Bourque, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand
Campbell rotated in for Lucic as a net-front presence, while Peverley would replace Krejci on the point. Krejci said that he played some point on the power play in the Czech Extraliga during the lockout.
After the practice, Bergeron spoke about the power play work, noting that the B’s will have to put Claude Julien and Geoff Ward‘s planning during the lockout to good use, and quickly.
“It’s a short season. We don’t have that much time, and we need to be prepared right away,” Bergeron said. “Special teams on both sides are going to be very important. The power play is no different. We don’t have that much time to work on it, so today was the perfect day to do that.”
The Bruins have been pretty forthcoming with their intentions to have Hamilton on the team this year, so it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that he’s already being used on the power play. After all, the season is five days away, so cushiony period of easing him into scenarios doesn’t really exist. Bergeron thinks he’ll handle the challenge well.
“He looks good,” Bergeron said of Hamilton. “He seems to be pretty poised with the puck and making the right plays. It’s only his second practice … but today I got the chance to work with him a little more and he seems to be a very good player, very smart. He doesn’t look like he’s 19 out there.”
Hamilton is an obvious choice on the power play, as the 6-foot-5 blueliner had 17 goals and 55 assists for 72 points in 50 games last season as the OHL’s most outstanding defenseman.
|Zdeno Chara: Dougie Hamilton ‘way better than I was at his age’||01.13.13 at 3:24 pm ET|
Following the Bruins’ first day of training camp in front of approximately 1,000 fans at TD Garden, B’s captain Zdeno Chara sang the praises of fellow defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The 19-year-old, who was named the most outstanding defenseman in the OHL, is expected to make the team this year after being drafted ninth overall in the 2011 draft.
“You don’t see very often guys being so humble and almost shy come around and be so good,” Chara said of Hamilton. “We all can see he’s very talented and willing to learn, so it’s exciting for all of us to have a guy like that around and try to help him out as much as you can and see him growing as a person.”
Hamilton has long looked up to Chara, as he is also a taller blueliner (Hamilton stands at 6-foot-5, while Chara is the tallest player in the history of the NHL at 6-foot-9). Asked if he saw some of his younger self in Hamilton, Chara said that he wasn’t as advanced at 19 as Hamilton is now.
“He’s way better. He’s way better than I was, I can tell you right now,” Chara said. “He’s way better than I was at his age.”
Hamilton, whose Twitter avatar is a picture of him standing on the ice with Chara, lit up when told of the captain’s praise.
“That’s awesome,” Hamilton said. “Just watching him out there, you can see how good he is. I don’t get to watch that much NHL hockey because we’re always playing. But you go out there and watch him and he’s pretty sick. If I can learn from him and try to get better and just watch him, he’s going to help me out a lot. I’m really looking forward to that.”
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|Bruins away from Boston roundup: Stats from around the world||10.01.12 at 12:05 pm ET|
With the NHL still locked out and lovin’ it (not really, but that’s catchy), here’s a look at how some of the B’s players and prospects are faring in various other leagues. Some players, such as Andrew Ference, have yet to join their new teams, while other players in the area still may elect to sign elsewhere, so these roundups will get longer as the weeks go on.
- Tyler Seguin‘s first game with EHC Biel left him with a stat line fans might like but Claude Julien would consider a nightmare: one assist and a minus-4 rating. There are plenty more points to come for Seguin, with the 20-year-old probably eager to improve that plus/minus. Remember, Seguin had a plus-34 rating last season, something that was undoubtedly aided by the fact that he was on a line with the Selke winner.
- Alexander Khockhlachev has one goal and a minus-5 rating through 11 games in the KHL. The plan was for the Bruins’ 2011 second-round pick to play in the KHL this season regardless of CBA goings on, as a season with the Moscow Spartak working for his father (Igor Khokhlachev is the team’s general manager) figured to be more beneficial than a third turn turn in the OHL for the 19-year-old.
- In five games for Moscow Oblast Atlant, Bruins backup goalie Anton Khudobin is 2-1-1 with a 2.63 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
- Dougie Hamilton scored his first goal of the season on Sunday night in Niagara’s 5-4 loss to Kingston, a game in which Hamilton added an assist and had a plus-4 rating. Through four games in his fourth season with Niagara, Hamilton has a goal and three assists for four points and a plus-6 rating with four penalty minutes. Hamilton will join the Bruins for camp if and when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached.
- 2011 third-round pick Anthony Camara has a whopping five goals and six points through five games this season for the Barrie Colts. The tough guy has added 10 penalty minutes and has a plus-1 rating. Three of those goals came in the form of a hat trick in Barrie’s season-opener.
Remember, Camara was a somewhat surprising pick when the B’s grabbed him as early as they did in 2011, as he had totaled just 14 goals in two OHL seasons to that point. Last season, Camara had 16 goals between Saginaw and Barrie, and it’s clear that his exponential offensive improvement is still going. Keep an eye on Camara, as his grit and newfound scoring touch could one day make him an ideal Bruin.
- Through four games with Belleville, 2012 24th overall pick Malcolm Subban is 2-2-0 with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli told reporters Friday that the B’s could bring Subban to camp this season the way they will with Hamilton, but you’d have to think that would be very unlikely given how far away from NHL-ready the 18-year-old is.