Hamilton ready for little brother Dougie to join him in pros


Hamilton ready for little brother Dougie to join him in pros

WORCESTER - Freddie Hamilton was always the older brother, and enjoyed a long run of dominance when it came to competing with younger brother Dougie in any sporting arena. It didnt matter what sport they were playing or whether it was in the backyard or one of many old barns in Ontario.

And the Hamilton brothers participated in plenty of sports as the two sons of an Olympic rower father and Olympic basketball player mother. They actually met during the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.

But regardless of their parents athletic pedigree, it was the typical brotherly relationship until Dougie sprouted up to a formidable 6-foot-5 as a teenager, and Freddie collided with him a few times while going head-to-head in the World Junior Orientation Camp for Team Canada. Freddie realized at that point that maybe the older brother doesnt always automatically win by default.

At World Junior camp the last couple of years weve played against each other. It was pretty strange. I think pretty immediately in the first game we played against each other the puck went into the corner and we hit each pretty hard, said Freddie. Growing up I was always taller than him, but once he hit that growth spurt in the OHL it made it a lot more difficult for me to handle him.

As an older brother Im obviously really proud of him and Ive tried to help him out. To see him doing so well is really exciting for me too. Hes been really good his whole life, but he was kind of small for a little bit. But he kept working at it and things are happening for him now. Seeing his progression from really good to maybe the best defenseman outside of the NHL has been special.

Fortunately Freddie and Dougie Hamilton have largely played together rather than against each other during their equally accomplished hockey careers including the last three years as members of the OHLs Niagara IceDogs. While Dougie is still in Niagara skating for the IceDogs while waiting for the NHL lockout to end, Freddie has begun his pro hockey career this season with the AHLs Worcester Sharks.

The 20-year-old topped 30 goals and 80 points in each of the last two seasons with the IceDogs, and has three assists and a minus-1 in his first seven games with Worcester this year. Thats a pretty good start for the 2010 Sharks fifth round draft pick after his four outstanding OHL seasons, and continues to provide clues to the San Jose brass as to what hell be after fully developing his game.

While he may not score with that kind of frequency after making the significant jump to the American Hockey League, Hamilton projects to be a bottom six forward with offensive upside in the San Jose organization. The on-ice relationship between the two brothers could end up very similar to the track of the Niedermayer brothers: hard-working energy forward Rob and Hall of Fame-caliber defenseman Scott captured the Stanley Cup over the course of their careers.

Its been so far, so good for young Freddie as he embarks on that working mans forward role with the Sharks.

I think Im getting more comfortable as the season has gone along. This league is much better than the OHL, said Freddie. Its a lot faster with stronger players. Everybody is much smarter as well. It takes a little bit of an adjustment, but the summer camp in San Jose certainly helps as well.

I pride myself on being a smart player and I always get better as I get used to whatever circumstance that Im in. Im definitely looking to continue to improve all season.

But Freddie is hopeful it wont be too long before hes up with the San Jose Sharks at the NHL level, and that will mean potential brotherly showdowns with Dougie after he joins up with the Bruins. Its expected Hamilton is going to make Bostons roster this year once the NHL season begins after the NHL and CHL made special lockout provisions for a group of elite junior hockey players once the lockout is over.

Despite those assurances for Bostons bright defenseman prospect, Freddie has felt his little brothers antsy feelings when theyve spoken over the phone something the close siblings do very often while hundreds of miles apart from each other.

We talk every day. He follows my games every day and I follow his, said Freddie. Even though were not together we still help each other out and give each other pointers when he can. Its definitely been a little different being apart though.

One other thing Freddie couldnt help: the older sibling envisioned future matchups against Dougie when his Worcester Sharks to the ice against the Providence Bruins on Friday night and took home a 3-2 win at the Dunkin Donuts Center despite a scoreless effort from Freddie. Just seeing the Black and Gold Bruins sweaters made Freddie realize the hockey dream shared by the two brothers is that much closer to reality no matter which of them gets to the NHL first.

Meanwhile Dougie has 17 points (6 goals, 11 assists) in 17 games for the IceDogs this year while he essentially sits and waits for the NHL to figure things out.

Its a little cool that my brother is with them and hes been to some camps with the Bruins, said Freddie. Dougie is hoping that the lockout ends soon. He wants to get up to Boston and prove himself there. But I think hes also done well to focus on the junior level while hes there.

We all hope the lockout ends so he gets his shot. Hes a little disappointed that things havent started up yet. Its our goal to both make the NHL and play against each other. It would be really cool. Well both push each to get there and make sure that happens. Itll be a weird experience playing against him, but it will be fun too.

Perhaps Freddie can even get back to big brother bragging rights even as Dougie has grown into what talent evaluators are calling the best defenseman currently playing outside the NHL ranks. That should be something fun to watch as their two careers intertwine over the next 10 years or more.

McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona


McAdam: World Series win could clear path to Cooperstown for Epstein or Francona

Sometime over the next 10 or so days, either the Chicago Cubs or Cleveland Indians will win the 2016 World Series.

Naturally, that will mean one of baseball's two longest-suffering franchises will end their championship drought. Either the Cubs will win their first title since 1908, or the Indians will win for the first time since 1948.

That alone should make for an epic World Series.

But there's another bit of history at stake, too - one of legacies.

In addition to the great discomfort felt by Red Sox ownership -- which fired the manager of one participating team and was seemingly happy to hold the door open for the exit of an executive now running the other - it will also almost certainly result, eventually, in either Terry Francona or Theo Epstein being enshrined into the Hall of Fame.

Epstein would go down as the architect who helped two star-crossed franchises win titles - the Red Sox in 2004, and the Cubs this fall.

The Red Sox went 86 years between championships; the Cubs would be ending a run of futility that stretched across 108 seasons.

That would provide Epstein with an unmatched resume when it comes to degree of difficulty. It's one thing to win it all; it's another altogether to do so with the Sox and Cubs, two clubs, until Epstein's arrival, linked in ignominy.

Epstein could become only the fourth GM in modern history win a World Series in both leagues. Frank Cashen (Orioles and Mets); John Schuerholz (Royals and Braves) and Pat Gillick (Blue Jays and Phillies).

He would also join a short list of executives who have won three rings, a list that includes contemporaries Brian Cashman and Brian Sabean.

Of course, Epstein can't claim to have constructed the entire Cubs roster, no more than he could have done when the Red Sox won in '04.

In Boston, Epstein inherited key players such as Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martinez, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek. Similarly, Javier Baez and Willson Contreras pre-date Epstein's arrival on the North Side.

But Epstein is responsible for nearly the remainder of the roster, and hiring manager Joe Maddon, the coaching staff and most of the Baseball Operations staff, including GM Jed Hoyer and scouting director Jason McLeod.

Francona's influence on the Indians is just as obvious.

Hired in late 2012 after spending a year in the ESPN broadcast booth, he inherited a team which had suffered through four straight losing seasons. In the five previous years before Francona's hiring, the Indians averaged just over 72 wins per season.

Since his arrival, the Indians have posted four straight winning seasons, with two playoff appearances, while averaging 88 wins per season.

It hasn't seemed to matter to the Indians that they've been without two of their three best starters (Danny Salazar and Carlos Carrasco) this postseason or arguably, their best offensive player for all but 11 games this season (Michael Brantley).

The Indians don't make excuses for injuries, or bemoan their modest payroll. Under Francona, they just win.

This postseason, he's made up for the absences in the rotation by masterfully utilizing reliever Andrew Miller anywhere from the fifth to the ninth inning.

A third World Series would put Francona in similarly rare company. Only 10 managers have won three or more World Series and just six have done so since World War 2 - Walter Alston, Joe Torre, Tony La Russa, Bruce Bochy Sparky Anderson and Casey Stengel.

The individual accomplishments of Epstein and Francona won't take center stage this week and next -- that attention will, rightly, go to their respective beleaguered franchises.

But the subtext shouldn't be overlooked. Once the partying and the parades come to an end, a path to Cooperstown for either the winning manager or winning president of baseball operations can be cleared.


Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.