Dougie Hamilton still hasnt caught up on sleep or jumped back into a North American time zone after getting back from the World Junior tournament in Ufa, Russia almost a week ago.
The 19-year-old Bruins rookie defenseman and 2011 first round pick is still waking up at weird hours of the night and falling asleep at 7 p.m. not something common for a teenager unless theyve been doing a little globetrotting or playing in elite hockey tournaments in another corner of the globe.
I am kind of jet-lagged. We had a 40-hour travel day, said Hamilton, who can't be sent back to junior hockey after playing his sixth NHL game in this shortened 48-game season. Im just trying to recover. I had been on the ice a couple of times for light skates this week, but I am still a little screwed up with the sleep schedule. But it will be okay.
Im not back to normal. I pretty much fall asleep every night at 7:30 and then I wake up early in the morning and Im wide awake. Its a little frustrating when you want to be sleeping, but theres nothing you can do.
So Hamilton might not physically be at his peak condition in his first few days of camp evaluation with the Boston Bruins, but it wont be make or break for the young blueliner provided he can show he belongs. On Sunday Hamilton was just overjoyed to be wearing a black Bruins practice jersey denoting him as an NHL defenseman hopeful, and mingling among guys like Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg.
That was awesome. Its just good to be here. Ive been waiting for this day for a while, said Hamilton, who said he learned the NHL lockout was over while stuck in a layover at Heathrow Airport after their flight back to Canada had been cancelled. The lockout was nothing I could control. All I could do was go back to Niagara and try to get better and keep learning.
I think I did that, but its good to be here now. My goal is to play in the NHL and its been that way since I was a little boy. I look forward to that.
He certainly has nothing left to prove at the OHL level as he was junior hockeys premier defenseman last season, and had put up 41 points (8 goals, 33 assists) in 32 games for the Niagara IceDogs this year.
It wont be that easy for the young defenseman at the NHL level, obviously, as thats a position where it usually takes years of experience before the training wheels are truly removed.
My automatic preface to that question is hes going to have an adjustment period, said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. Theres no too much expectation on him to start. Its hard to be a defenseman in the National Hockey League. He was pressing offensively at the World Junior Tourney from what I saw and what our scouts saw too. Weve got to just dial that back a little bit.
But hell work his way into the lineup. Hes got to earn a spot on the roster, but I expect him to earn a spot based on what Ive seen and how we project. Hes big and rangy. Hes a rookie, whos a very good rookie, who will have to work himself into the lineup. Its as simple as that.
Perhaps with the idea of dialing down the pressure on Hamilton, the Bruins have paired him with the rock-steady Dennis Seidenberg to start off at training camp. There was some speculation that Hamilton would skate with Zdeno Chara right off the top, but this perhaps eases the pressure while also lessening the defensive workload for a kid thats simply learning the ropes.
Ive seen him play a few times this year and I see a guy thats got a lot of potential. The size and the skating ability that goes along with it is tremendous. Hes got good hockey sense and good poise, said Claude Julien. Like a lot of other things youve got to give a young guy the opportunity to feel his way in. Some guys are quicker than others, but right now its about giving him the opportunity.
Weve got a lot of left defenseman and weve got right defenseman that can play on the left side like you see with Andrew Ference and Seidenberg. I dont know if HamiltonSeidenberg is carved in stone, but to be with him right now isnt a bad thing. Hes a hard-working defenseman thats pretty reliable, and we want Hamilton to have confidence that somebody is going to be there to have his back as well.
The key with Hamilton is patience. Chara was speaking the truth when he told reporters on Sunday afternoon that Hamilton is much better than the 6-foot-9 Bs captain was at 19 years old, but it took years of work and development for Zee to become the Black and Gold behemoth that he is now.
Hamilton will need the same kind of slow, deliberate development path before he turns into a smooth, physical 6-foot-5 defenseman that can begin to approach the numbers he could put up by accident in junior hockey.