WILMINGTON, Mass. – Dougie Hamilton returned to the Bruins practice ice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday and skated with his teammates for the first time since sustaining a “mild concussion” in the victory over San Jose on Jan. 11.
Hamilton hasn’t been cleared for contact as of yet, and coach Claude Julien said he wasn’t sure whether the second-year defenseman would be traveling with the team through Philadelphia and Long Island.
“We’re not sure yet. He will possibly [travel] with the team because he’s practicing with us, but I don’t know if he’ll be cleared to play,” said Julien. “It’s still very light contact for him. He can go in there and battle a little bit, but we need him to avoid the heavy contact.”
Hamilton has missed the past four games with the concussion, and had played just five games for the B’s after missing a month with a sprained MCL in his right knee. His absence forced the Bruins to slot Zdeno Chara back at the point spot on the second power-play unit. That second unit has missed the 20-year-old’s point shot and offensive skills.
While the Bruins clearly enjoyed a boost from both Hamilton and Chris Kelly returning to practice with their teammates, Julien said his team is focusing on the games ahead rather than when the injured players will be ready.
“We’re slowly getting back to our regular lineup, I guess,” said Julien. “But right now guys are focusing on our team as it is, and going out there every day and competing. If those guys come back then it’s great, and if not then we need to keep doing the job we’ve doing the last three games.”
Those three games saw the Bruins take five of six points against Dallas, Chicago and Los Angeles. They have only seven games remaining until the Olympic break.