Julien: Hamilton's reduced ice time 'part of the growing process'

Julien: Hamilton's reduced ice time 'part of the growing process'
February 23, 2013, 4:00 pm
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SUNRISE, FL – The first year journey of 19-year-old Dougie Hamilton has been well documented, as has been the low ice time totals in each of the last two wins over Winnipeg and Tampa Bay.

Hamilton was on the ice for three goals against in those two games and is a minus-3 in 14 games this season, but he’s also tied for tops among NHL defenseman with eight points this season. The rookie rearguard was the victim of a shortened bench in a one-goal game against Winnipeg last weekend that saw Claude Julien go with a five man defensemen rotation, and Hamilton saw a season-low 10 minutes of ice time against a dangerous Tampa Bay Lightning bunch.

While that may signal danger signs to some, it’s part of the learning process as Claude Julien and the Boston coaching staff brings Hamilton along at the same slow and steady pace as Tyler Seguin two years ago. There’s wide acknowledgement that Hamilton is dealing with concepts and responsibilities in the defensive zone that were completely foreign to him at the OHL level.  

“It’s not tricky as much as it’s part of the growing process of a young player. He came in and had a really strong start for us, and he’s still playing well for us. But teams are getting better and players are getting a little bit better because the guys that hadn’t played [during the lockout] are hitting their groove,” said Claude Julien. “But at the same time defensively it’s a totally different game than he’s used to playing [at the junior level]. “These are grown men and there are some strong individuals with good positioning. There are things you can get away with in junior hockey that you can’t get away with. Everybody at this level is capable of playing here, and what separates [players] that stay from the ones that don’t are the players that pay attention to the little things. Those little things make a big difference in the game.”

It may be spoon-fed to Hamilton as things get more hectic and the games ramp up in importance, but the Bruins knew this when they signed on the offensively gifted 19-year-old for regular duty this season as an NHL rookie defenseman.