BOSTON — Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton has experienced some bumps along the road in his first two seasons as a pro.
Hamilton came to Boston after the B’s took him ninth overall in the 2012 NHL entry draft. In most cases, a top-10 pick like that is going to a bad team and gets the chance to play and play a lot right away. Hamilton made the team out of an abbreviated camp last season, but a veteran-laden team like the Bruins has been able to bring the 20-year-old along slowly. That’s good for the team and the player in the long run, but it’s not necessarily for someone so young and so used to having on-ice success.
The process has included sitting Hamilton down as a healthy scratch twice in the past week. The Bruins have had to shake things up lately in an attempt to try out new players, and Hamilton has had to sit because of that. He returned to the lineup Thursday, though.
“We’ve asked him is to be patient with us because he came in here as a 19-year-old,” Julien said. “A 19-year-old that’s on a team that’s rebuilding is going to play a ton, a 19-year-old that’s on an established team doesn’t get the same luxury, but he gets the luxury of developing in a winning environment and finding out quickly what it takes to win so he’s in a good situation.”
The two-game break may actually be a good thing for Hamilton. Not only does it give him a bit of a rest late in his first full NHL season (after a lockout-shortened campaign last year), it gives him a different look at the game. Players can often benefit in the move from the ice to the press box where a different look at the game can offer perspective.
“I think it’s obviously a different game from up there and it’s a lot easier and everything is slower and stuff like that so you can see things, but I think just trying to add different things to my game,” Hamilton said after playing 17:05 in the Bruins’ win over Phoenix. “The coaches talked to me and told me certain things to add and I think there’s been things all year that I’ve been working on and trying to improve. And I think I just have to keep adding more and keep getting ready so I can play in the playoffs.”
The Bruins will certainly need Hamilton to be at his best in the playoffs. He figures to be a big part of the team’s defensive corps in the postseason, and the Bruins would like nothing more than for Hamilton to take the next step in his career as playoffs roll around.
“I think I’m more used to it now and obviously it’s not fun not playing but I think I got to learn a lot last year through that whole playoff run and know more what to expect and what’s expected of me,” Hamilton said. “So just trying to I guess get my game to a trustworthy playoff game in this last month or so, and hopefully I can do that and earn a spot.”