Chiarelli: I hope Hamilton makes the team

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Chiarelli: I hope Hamilton makes the team

While the bulk of the discussion this week will be about fresh-faced hockey prospects that the Bruins intend on selecting this weekend at the NHL Draft in Pittsburgh, its full speed ahead for the crown jewel of last years Boston draft class.

Dougie Hamilton pushed his Niagara junior into the Memorial Trophy playoffs in a season he was named the OHLs best defenseman, and he proved just about everything possible in a breakout campaign at 18 years old.

The Bruins watched all of this unfold over the year while Joe Corvo struggled at the NHL level amidst an otherwise solid 'D' corps. So the expectation and hope is that Hamilton the No. 9 overall pick in the 2011 draft and the final piece gained from the Phil Kessel deal with Toronto will make the Bruins out of training camp provided he proves he belongs in the NHL as a teenager.

He also might be a little bigger than people remember. Hes sprouted another inch as a 6-foot-6 defenseman, and he can skate with a seemingly unfair level of speed and dexterity.

What are we going to see at training camp? Were going to see a kid thats grown and matured . . . and is stronger, said Chiarelli of Hamilton, who turned 19 years old last weekend. He was strong when he got here, but hes become an even stronger and more confident kid.

Thats no easy feat, but the Bruins feel the same about Hamilton as they did about Tyler Seguin entering his first NHL training camp. The 6-foot-6 defenseman was so big, strong and dominant that the Bruins worry another man against boys season in the OHL could open the door for bad habits to creep into his game.

Theres not much more to prove when you put up 72 points in 50 games as a defenseman and then toss up another 23 points in 20 playoff games.

Hamilton was a two-way force capable of playing shutdown defense and posting obscenely large offensive numbers, and he looks ready to be harvested by the NHL parent club.

"One of the things when we were deciding on keeping Tyler Seguin a couple of years ago was the question 'What are we going to gain by sending him back to junior hockey?' " said Chiarelli. "Will he get into bad habits because he can do things more easily down there than hed be able to at the NHL level?

That was one of our reasons for keeping Tyler up here. It may be that we have to apply the same approach to Dougie. We look for big, strong D and guys that can think the game. Thats what he does. Im not going to say that I expect him to make the team. But I would like him to make the team because hes a good player.

Theres also the element of allowing Hamilton in with an experienced group of blueliners like Zdeno Chara, Andrew Ference, Johnny Boychuk, Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid. Those will be some of the best teachers he could have, and theyll all be among his defensemen corps next season should he be in Boston.

"Its hard to play defense in the NHL and hes going to need time," Chiarelli said. "There will be every opportunity for him to play in the National Hockey League next year. Hes a terrific young player and a terrific young kid. I saw him a couple of times in the spring and in Calgary at World Junior. Before he was suspended for a hit to the head he was threatening for the league scoring lead in the OHL. He is a very good prospect for us.

It sounds like hell be going from Bs prospect to bona fide player in the matter of a couple of months.

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

Amid signs his job might be in trouble, Julien says: 'I'm not quitting on this team'

BRIGHTON, Mass – Roughly 12 hours after embattled Bruins coach Claude Julien bristled at a question about his job security and labeled it “shock journalism” in the heat of the moment after a tight loss to the Blackhawks, the B’s bench boss delivered a classy, heartfelt response to the same question.

Julien was asked about it in French by a reporter from the Montreal Gazette, but answered in English because of the “loyalty he feels to the people in Boston.”

In essence, Julien basically said he should be relieved of his duties if he’s deemed to be behind what ails the Black and Gold, but he’s going to keep working to fix things until that day comes.

It was exactly the kind of response you would expect from a coach who's taken the B’s to the mountaintop in his 10 years running the team and will always be respected and loved in Boston long after his coaching days are done.

“How do I deal with all of the rumors and all that is going on? I didn’t feel like [Friday night] was the appropriate time for me to answer that after a game where you’re emotions are pretty high. I wasn’t getting into that, but to be honest with you my job is to coach the hockey club,” said Julien. “Am I worried about my job? No, I’m not. Because it’s not my job to worry about it. My job is to fix things, and my job is to coach this team and do everything I can. If I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, then management has to make that decision.

“It’s not my decision to make. I’m not quitting on this team. I’m not quitting on anybody. I’m not quitting on management. I’m ready and willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here, and that’s all I can say.”

While the Bruins roster is clearly less than perfect and has a larger dose of youthful players than in years past, Julien also freely admitted that they should be held to a higher standard after proving many nights that they should be a playoff team. That’s the mandate from Bruins ownership and that’s the challenge that Julien has willingly accepted.

It’s also the challenge that’s falling a bit short now as they’ve lost three crushing games in a row and have fallen behind the Ottawa Senators in the playoff standings, with Toronto also right behind them holding six games in hand.

“If we’re going with what we said we were going with and there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it,” said Julien. “I think we put ourselves in a position earlier in the year where we could all of a sudden believe that we’re a playoff team...absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team. Whether we can do it or not we’ll find out at the end of the year, but my job is to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m going to do.

“As far as the rumors are concerned, they’re out there and I know that. But I don’t worry about it because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. And my time is spent trying to fix things here.”

Julien and the Bruins are headed to Pittsburgh for a Sunday matinee against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and will have two games against the red-hot Pens headed into an All-Star break weekend that must feel like a well-earned oasis for Julien at this point in the season. 

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

Haggerty: Good, but not good enough, again the story for Bruins

BOSTON – The all-important results continue to elude the Bruins at the time when they need them most.

The Black and Gold lost their third game in a row, 1-0, to the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden Friday night when they allowed the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds remaining in regulation. It was a simple defensive breakdown and some great tic-tac-toe passing with Marian Hossa finishing things off, but it also felt like a game where the Blackhawks coasted against a wounded Bruins team for 58 minutes before turning it on when it was winning time.

The winning goal was a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero to Hossa, with the puck sliding right between the legs of Adam McQuaid in the slot, and Hossa picking a corner while giving Tuukka Rask zero time to react side to side.

“We had a game plan in place and our guys executed well, they were ready to play,” said Claude Julien. “One little mistake and it’s in our net, and you lose yourself a pretty important hockey game.”

So, now the Bruins have taken only one point in their past three games, have dropped behind the Ottawa Senators in the Atlantic Division standings and continue to skate around like they’re wearing the weight of the entire organization on their shoulders.

“At the end of the night it is another loss and that’s the biggest thing. Did your team play fairly well? I think so. I think we competed hard, but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains. We had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and in our net with a minute-and- a-half left,” said Julien. “We have to stand there again, and take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes.

“I thought we played pretty well against a good team. We had contained the guys that we needed to contain. We didn’t score any goals – I don’t think we did a good enough job there - we had some chances but again you got to find ways to score goals. That’s where we are at.”

Clearly, the Bruins didn’t give up a ton defensively and Rask had been solid for the first two-plus periods, but there was also a sense Chicago didn’t bring its best game either when Boston outshot the Blackhawks 17-6 in the opening period. It was also clear that, aside from a couple of good, early chances from Tim Schaller and Brad Marchand, along with a Joe Morrow breakaway chance, the Bruins offense wasn’t doing enough work to get closer to the Chicago net for any sustained pressure.

So, instead of a solid result with dark clouds swirling over Causeway Street that a big change is needed to jolt a stagnant team, the Bruins hang up another loss where they outshot their opponent and end up with nothing to show for it.

These are the kinds of losses that test morale and togetherness and could either be taken as a sign of things tightening up for the Bruins or of things continuing to spiral away from a team that just needs wins at this point.

“I’m sure everybody’s feeling down right now because we lost, but you can’t start pouting too much. You’ve got to move on,” said Rask, who allowed one goal on 22 shots in the loss. “[There’s a] big game coming up Sunday, and next week, so it’s a loss and we have to move on. [We have to] get ready for the next one. I’m sure guys are pissed today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Tomorrow is a new day for everybody on the Black and Gold including Julien, who is scheduled to still run practice on Saturday as the B’s bench boss before speaking to the media prior to the team leaving for Pittsburgh. So, it’s business as usual after another loss on Friday night in a classic Original Six matchup that’s clearly most of the luster from where it was at four years ago, but one can only sit and wonder how much longer business as usual cuts it for a hockey club that continues to flounder.