Four games into the Bruins season nearly all precincts are reporting in on the Phil Kessel trade to Toronto four years ago, and its the gift that keeps on giving for the Black and Gold. Its also likely one of the biggest reasons why Brian Burke is no longer in charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs after they traded the draft picks used by the Bruins to select both Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton.
Perhaps the chants should change from Thank You, Kessel to Thank You, Burkie because it certainly looks like the Bruins now have their franchise players that will keep a Cup-worthy nucleus playoff-built for the next 10 years.
Its been a slow start for the 20-year-old Seguin as hes got only a single assist in his first four games and his power play unit hasnt yet found traction on the young season. But the 19-year-old Hamilton has taken the city of Boston by storm, and found himself in the middle of his first Dougie! Dougie! Dougie! chant on the TD Garden ice in the third period of Friday nights 4-2 win over the New York Islanders.
To say Hamilton was appreciative of the welcoming crowd would be an understatement.
I was going back to get the puck and I thought thats what I heard. I was just trying to not fumble the puck when going back there for it after hearing the chants. It would have been better if I had scored on that play instead of hitting him in the head, said Hamilton, who finished with 16:13 of ice time on 28 shifts. Its obviously nice to have that support from the fans. It is pretty cool.
Just dont ask Hamilton if hes surprised to look up and see that hes got three points in his first four games, and hasnt needed any adjustment period to get things done at the NHL level.
I think you guys in the media are more surprised than I am. I think for me, I didnt have expectations, said Hamilton. I just wanted to come in and do my best. I have gotten a lot of opportunities, and Im playing with a lot of great players. It makes it a lot easier on me.
The offensive defenseman had just authored his second assist of the night on a long outlet pass that turned Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron into fast-breaking forwards, and manufactured a breakaway goal for Bergeron. It was Hamiltons second assist of the evening and the first of should be many multi-point games in his NHL career.
His first helper arrived on the teams first goal of the night when he fired a puck from the point that created a big rebound aided by a Daniel Paille tip, and Shawn Thornton shoveled the backhand rebound in for the score.
It's pretty good stuff for a teen-ager that still playing for the Niagara IceDogs a couple of months ago.
Its amazing that hes 19 years old. Its just a number for him on the ice, said Bergeron, who remembers what that was like after being the youngest player in the NHL during his rookie season. You cant tell at all, and his poise is unbelievable, Its great to have him on our side.
Surging from the energy created by the chanting crowd and the TD Garden game operations people going with the obvious Teach Me How to Dougie on the jumbotron, Hamilton fired a puck at the net that seemed destined for his first NHL goal.
But instead the puck clanged off Rick DiPietros helmet for a Grade A bell-ringer, and the youngster was lamenting what might have been afterward.
I think thats why our front office guys drafted him, because they saw a lot of things were seeing right now. We liked his size, we liked the way he moved on the ice, but at the same time, we thought he had real good hockey sense, said Claude Julien. He sees the ice well, he finds the passing lanes and you saw on that goal, breakout out of our own end.
You see the guy scoring, but it all starts from our end, and that was from his pass to Brad Marchand and to Bergy Patrice Bergeron for the breakaway. Those kinds of things are what our scouts saw in him and those kinds of things hes demonstrating right now. You have to be pleased and impressed with a young player playing the way he has been.
Not only is Hamilton not going back to junior hockey with the Bs fifth game of the season coming up Monday in Carolina, but the young defenseman is quickly becoming a game-changing Calder Trophy candidate for the Black and Gold. Its early in the process but Hamilton is tied for third overall among NHL rookies with his three points, and is tied with impressive Edmonton Oilers defenseman Justin Schultz for tops among NHL rookie blueliners.
He gives the Bruins the kind of puck-moving, point-producing defenseman they havent had since a guy that wore No. 77 roamed the ice for the Black and Gold. His teammates have marveled at his offensive skills and his ability to get low, heavy shots from the point through traffic to the net creating rebound chances. Two of his first three career assists have come from that exact scenario after Hamilton shots from the point.
You always like to see the young guys come in with that spark as theyre realizing their lifelong dream to play in the NHL. It wasnt too long ago that I was a 19-year-old first coming into the league and having some fun, said Lucic. But obviously hes at a different level than I was at as a 19-year-old. You look at his ability to make the first pass when its in the defensive zone, neutral zone or in the offensive zone and its great to see.
When we made the trade for Nathan Horton and Campbell we lost a bit of that in Dennis Wideman, and hes definitely brought a lot of that to our defense corps. And thats a defense corps thats already shown they have what it takes to win a Stanley Cup, so hes some extra punch out there for us.
To just think that none of this would be possible if Kessel didnt fold his arms, tramp his feet and demand a trade to Toronto. It's more than a little amusing to everybody except those in the southern Ontario area code.