September 9, 2011

Hamilton confident, ready to battle for spot with big club

by Jesse Connolly

Dougie Hamilton hopes he has what it akes to crack the Bruins' roster this season. (Dave Arnold Photography)

WILMINGTON – Dougie Hamilton certainly wasn’t exaggerating when he said it’d been a short time since his last visit to Ristuccia Arena.

Two months removed from the Bruins’ annual development camp, Hamilton and the rest of the organization’s prospects hit the ice on Friday morning for the first official day of rookie camp.

During the interim, however, the B’s ninth overall pick in June has kept himself busy. After participating in World Junior camp for Canada and spending two weeks in Niagara to prepare for the upcoming campaign, Hamilton is back in the Hub of Hockey and feels immensely more at home than his initial visit back in July.

“It’s definitely a lot easier coming here the second time,” Hamilton said. “Coming in the summer was a little bit tougher. You start to know people, the staff and where to go, so it makes it easier and more comfortable this time.”

But don’t expect the 6-foot-4 defenseman to start feeling too comfortable.

The atmosphere at rookie camp will soon transform into one far different than what the Bruins band of youngsters went through two months ago. The time for friendliness and getting acclimated with one another is over, as the battle for jobs with the big club is officially underway.

“I think in the next couple days when we start getting ready to go to New York and play games, it’s going to change a bit,” Hamilton said of the competitive nature of camp. “There’s all different guys here trying out for different spots and trying to show their strengths. For me, I just try to play my game and not worry about anyone else.”

Hamilton will head into that battle with plenty of confidence. The 18-year-old blueliner reported that he improved upon all of the off-ice testing results he posted back in July. Furthermore, Hamilton also got a good feel for how his development is moving along at World Junior camp.

“There’s a lot of good players in Canada,” Hamilton quipped when asked what he took away from the camp. “It’s nice to kind of compare yourself to the top players your age and a year older, and kind of know where you stand. You get confidence from that and it’s been good for me.”

While Hamilton faces plenty of stiff competition in his bid to represent his home country at the World Junior Championship, his odds of cracking this year’s Bruins lineup are certainly slimmer.

Boston is, after all, the defending Stanley Cup champs, and the Black and Gold – though arguably lacking an elite prospect on defense, sans Hamilton – certainly have ample depth on the blueline.

However, you can forget about Hamilton coming into camp already resigned to being sent back to the OHL.

“I just want to come and play my best,” Hamilton said. “Obviously there’s a lot of good d-men, but I just have to show my stuff and what I can do. Whatever they want to do with me, that’s what I’ll do.”

And if rejoining his fellow IceDogs is his fate, Hamilton promises to build off of his looming experience alongside proven pros as much as possible.

“Obviously when you’re playing with older guys that are faster and stronger, you learn from that and you learn to make quicker plays,” he said. “You just get more comfortable. If I go back to Niagara, I’ll gain a lot from that and it’ll seem a lot easier.”