On Wednesday night in the Bruins’ 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers -- a nationally televised game -- Bruins rookie defenseman Dougie Hamilton gave his team, the league and hockey fans a glimpse of why he was chosen No. 9 overall at the 2011 NHL Entry Level Draft. Not only did Hamilton earn his first NHL point with a power play assist on Brad Marchand’s second period tally, he displayed veteran poise and confidence throughout the game. After logging 23:27 of ice time on Monday in the 2-1 shootout win over Winnipeg, Hamilton played 18:55 on Wednesday, and led all Bruins defenseman with 4:23 of power play time.
After the game, coach Claude Julien praised Hamilton.
“He was so poised and confident,” Julien told the Boston Globe. “If anybody thinks he can’t play in this league, they should take some time to watch this game. I really, really liked his game.
Just as everyone has been impressed with Hamilton’s play through his first three NHL games, so has Hall of Famer and former Bruin Ray Bourque. But Bourque isn’t as surprised as some may be with Hamilton’s smooth transition from junior hockey to the NHL. Bourque was drafted No. 8 overall in the 1979 draft and found himself in a very similar situation that helped him just go out and play his game.
“I think he is with a veteran team and the surroundings and people he gets to play with is just great for him,” Bourque told ESPNBoston.com. “Yes there’s high expectations in some ways but in other ways he’s just asked to come in and do his job. He doesn’t have to be the franchise guy and that’s a really good situation to be in and I was in a similar spot when I came in with all the talented veterans around me. You just get to relax, go out and play and do your job.”
Bourque -- who went on to play 1,612 games in 22 seasons, with 1,579 points -- didn’t have to deal with the hype Hamilton is experiencing now due to increased media attention and social media. But the father of Hamilton’s current teammate Chris Bourque thinks Hamilton is already prepped for such hype.
“That’s how he grew up and I’m sure he’s used to that,” Bourque said. “He’s had success in the OHL and junior hockey and at the World Juniors and there’s so much hype around that so I’m sure he’s learned to deal with it at an early age. So with Twitter and Facebook and dealing with you guys [the media], I’m sure he’s a cagey vet that way already. Given this is totally different and on the biggest stage but this is where you want to be and I’m sure that’s not bothering him too much. Growing up in Canada, being a top draft pick, this is what you dream of and I’m sure because of that he’s embracing it all.”
Bourque also believes that Hamilton’s humble ways, which he witnessed in their first encounter during training camp, will help him as the season and his career go on.
“I met him during camp actually,” Bourque said. “I was meeting Chris at Tresca (Bourque’s restaurant in the North End) and he was walking in as I was walking out and I was like ‘hey how ya doing?’ and he said ‘hi’ back. We chatted a bit and that was it. But seems like a good, quiet kid and that’s a good way to be right now for him and for a little while.”