The Bruins have a long, storied tradition of sticking up for each other when emotions get a little testy on the ice. It was one of the hallmarks of the club that won the Stanley Cup two years ago.
So its not surprising that Zdeno Chara set that tone again on Monday afternoon as the captain has done so many times. Blake Wheeler threw his 6-foot-5 frame into 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton during the rooks first game skating with the 6-foot-9 Chara, and apparently did it a little too late and with a little too much oomph.
Knowing Wheeler from his Boston days, the chippy play was a little eyebrow-raising.
He wasnt known an overly physical player when he was here, but he was a good skater, admitted Claude Julien.
So Chara informed Wheeler that he didn't appreciate the cross-check on Hamilton, hammering the former Bs forward in the neutral zone with a textbook hit when the chance presented itself.
The message was clear: Dont mess with Dougie.
Needless to say the 19-year-old appreciated it in only his second NHL game, and his first skating game alongside Chara with Dennis Seidenberg out because of a lower-body injury.
"It was unreal," Hamilton said. "I think he doesnt have to do that for me, but he came over and gave the guy a cross check. Then Blake Wheeler was coming down on him and he laid him out pretty good. I saw that and I was laughing on the ice and instant smile, so I guess Im used to that with my brother protecting me, but its nice to have guys here do it."
Hamilton was speaking of his older brother Freddie, a forward in the San Jose Sharks organization currently playing in Worcester, who goes about 6-foot-1 and 195-pounds on his good days. Dougies new protector is a lot bigger.
Julien was asked about the sequence on Tuesday morning after practice, and said the clear, simple dont mess with us message is part of the Bruins way.
More than anything else, that makes the rookies feel like theyre appreciated, said Julien, who remarked that the ultra-talented Hamilton is certainly living up to expectations after two games. It says that 'Z', who Hamilton idolizes to start with, has got him under his wing and is going to protect.
Its good for confidence and its great to know. If your teammates didnt like you, it would be pretty obvious because they wouldnt go out there to protect you. Hes already earned that respect.
It would appear very clear that Hamilton is already liked, respected and protected as a member of the Bruins.