Hamilton has eyes on making Bruins despite lockout threat

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Hamilton has eyes on making Bruins despite lockout threat

So it appears that Dougie Hamilton will be a member of the Bruins next season when NHL hockey is finally ready to resume activity.

The 19-year-old defenseman will have to make the team out of training camp, of course, but Peter Chiarelli openly wondered earlier this summer whether Hamilton could get stuck in junior hockey if theres a work stoppage.

I dont know his status, said Chiarelli, back on July 24 at a press conference to announce Claude Juliens contract extension. But what I can tell you from a previous, a previous work stoppage is that those players that are under 20 and have been in the Canadian Hockey League generally go back to junior hockey.

The 2011 first round pick is too young at 19 years old to play in the AHL this upcoming season, and Hamilton confirmed that he will return to the OHLs Niagara IceDogs if theres a lockout to start the year. But the 6-foot-5 defenseman also said in the same breath hes pretty sure hell be leaving Niagara to report to Bruins training camp once the CBA is finally completed.

The only question now is whether thats September 15 along with the rest of the Bruins rookies for training camp, or when the NHL and NHLPA decide to finally get on the same page.

Im approaching it with an open mind, and just going day-by-day while getting ready for the camp, said Hamilton, who should play on the right side for the Bruins along with Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid. Hopefully the lockout will end soon and I can go to camp and have that opportunity.

All of the 19-year-olds would be back in the OHL. I dont know if its set in stone yet or its just the word going around, but all of those guys would go back to their junior teams and then go to training camp when the NHL season starts. Its a little interesting, but I havent focused on it too much. I just want to work hard, have fun and get ready for everything. It could just be more of an opportunity to work out and get ready, I guess.

The young defenseman was part of the NHLPA Rookie Showcase in Toronto over the last couple of days, and really hasnt taken much of a break during the summer. Hamilton jumped from the Bruins Development Camp to the CanadaRussia Challenge and then to World Junior tryout camp while training for NHL camp with the Bruins. Hamilton skates with his brother, Freddie, along with a collection of AHL and European players during the downtime in the summer.

All that work is about making it in the NHL next season, and that aim hasnt wavered for Hamilton no matter whats happening with the labor issues within the league. Thats good news for a Bruins team licking their chops to utilize a D-Man that posted 72 points in 50 regular season games before posting 23 more points in 20 playoff games.

My goal is to make the Bruins and hopefully I get that opportunity, said Hamilton, who will miss out on the rookie preseason games on Florida that were recently cancelled in one of the first Bs casualties during the work stoppage. Those were pretty fun games that got you ready for camp. It will be different without them, but it will obviously be different this year with the lockout. Im just going with the flow.

Thats the best approach for a young guy like Hamilton.

Hes still very much one of the players in the grey area of the labor discord between a hockey league hes never played in and a players association he wont officially be a member of until he laces up his skates for his first NHL game. But it sounds like Hamilton will be armed, willing and ready whenever the NHL resumes its regular season, and that answers one of the burning Bruins questions this summer with CBA strife upon us all.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.