Hamilton sticking around with Bruins; stars in victory

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Hamilton sticking around with Bruins; stars in victory

RALEIGH, NC Apparently it isnt a Bruins game these days without a big play from 19-year-old rookie Dougie Hamilton.

Once again it wasnt a perfect performance as his natural offensive instincts took him way away from his normal position in a key sequence at the end of the second period. Hamilton hung Chris Kelly out to dry on the Eric Staal goal that tied things at 3-3 when the Bruins center was forced to break the puck out of the defensive zone on his own.

But Hamilton made up for it by making a heady, slick cross-ice pass in the final two minutes of regulation that set up a David Krejci one-timer, and powered the Bruins to an entertaining 5-3 victory at PNC Arena.

Hamilton faked with a big shot from the right circle once he corralled wildly bouncing puck, and was on the money with a tape-to-tape pass.

I think were going to see a lot of this stuff. The thing that really impressed me about him when I watched him in junior this year was his vision, said Julien of the trip the Bs coach and GM Peter Chiarelli took to watch the young defenseman at Niagara during the lockout. He sees the ice so well and finds the open seams. You talk about the game-winning goal, but there was a few times he found an open guy right up the seam and got us going on our way in transition.

Thats what weve been talking about for a long time. We wanted some guys that can move the puck. Were big and now we find some defenseman that can move the puck extremely well. He certainly fits that mold.

Hamilton now has assists in three straight games for the Bruins, and has posted four assists in five games while keeping close pace with fellow rookie blueliner Justin Schultz (2 goals, 3 assists in four games) of the Edmonton Oilers. Bostons rookie blueliner finished with four shots on net and a pair of hits in 19:19 of ice time. That all of this happened on the day when the Bruins made it official Hamilton wont be going back to junior hockey was all the sweeter for the first year player.

The Bruins had until Hamilton suits up for his sixth game to make a decision on whether or not to return him to the OHLs Niagara IceDogs, but the understanding was that he was going to stick with the NHL club unless he fell flat on his face. It became the biggest no-brainer in the history of earth to keep the teenaged skater after watching him excel in some pretty big spots.

Hamilton has done the exact opposite of struggling while becoming one of the most impactful rookies in the league over the seasons first two weeks.

He has a lot of poise and he plays a very mature game, said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. Im sure inside he felt relieved, but based on how Ive seen him play, it wouldnt surprise me if his play doesnt go one way or the other now that he knows hes staying because hes a real poised and mature player.

Chiarelli said he told him a week ago that things were looking good for him to stick with the Bruins in these terms: Look, things are going well, so dont screw it up.

Hamilton has proceeded to not screw up in the best way possible and even more impressively didnt relax or ease up after learning of his favorable NHL fate. Now he'll move in and live with defenseman Adam McQuaid for the rest of this season as he continues to assimilate into the NHL lifestyle as a wide-eyed youngster.

Its just overall excitement, said Hamilton. Its been my dream ever since I was a little kid to play in the NHL. So I think for me its a dream come true. I just want to keep on getting better and having fun.

The dream is just getting started for Hamilton and the Bruins, and its clear neither player nor team will be waking up anytime soon.

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Morning Skate: Petersen snubs Sabres, Fleury pens letter to Pittsburgh

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the NHL pre-July 1 wooing period is underway.

 

*Another draft pick has snubbed the team that selected him after their college career, and this time it’s the Buffalo Sabres. 

 

*It’s a shame to see the demise of the CTV sports staff in Montreal. Brian Wilde is a friend and a colleague, and a voice on the Habs that deserved to be heart up in that city. 

 

*In an emotional letter penned to the only NHL city that he’d ever played in, Marc-Andre Fleury has plenty to say about Pittsburgh. 

 

*The Edmonton Oilers and Peter Chiarelli have signed rugged power forward Zack Kassian to a three-year, $5.85 million contract. Interesting risk here for a player that might be a fourth line guy, and has had some issues toeing the line in the past, but Kassian has been pretty effective for the Oil since they stuck out their neck for him. 

 

*Teemu Selanne is a no-brainer for this season’s Hockey Hall of Fame class, and that’s great. But it will be a crime if three-time Stanley Cup champion and high-ranking lifetime scorer Mark Recchi doesn’t finally get into the Hall this season. Seriously, Recchi has the credentials statistically, he has the Stanley Cups, he has the time playing with some of the greatest players of his generation during his NHL career and he also happens to have been a great person and leader on top of all that. If former Bruins winger Recchi doesn’t hear his name announced this season then something is seriously flawed with the process. 

 

*How exactly will the return of Brandon Saad impact both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane over the next few seasons? One would imagine it’s going to be a positive impact. 

 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman thinks that the Columbus Blue Jackets are making a push to be contenders, and will be in the mix for Ilya Kovalchuk. 

 

*Speaking of Blackhawks former Cup champs, Niklas Hjalmarsson is bringing that winning tradition, experience and leadership to the Arizona Coyotes now that he’s been traded. 

 

*For something completely different: What a crazy story this Han Solo movie intrigue has turned into, with reports that the movie’s crew “broke into applause” when it was announced that Ron Howard was taking over direction of the movie. 

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

NHL shouldn't overthink offsides challenges any longer; they should just get rid of them

When the hockey world grew tired of shootouts, the league took something of a half measure. Rather than eliminate the shootout, the league moved overtime from 4-on-4 to 3-on-3. It worked; games that were tied at the end of regulation were more likely to end in the five-minute OT period than before, thus reducing the frequency of shootouts. 

Now, the NHL is dealing with its latest cumbersome gameplay issue: the offsides challenge. A half-measure isn’t as desirable in this case. No more half measures, Walter. 

The offsides challenge was introduced with good intentions, but it’s simply too easy to abuse. And really, when the option is there with only a timeout at risk, why wouldn’t a coach roll the dice that maybe a guy was offsides entering the zone 29 seconds before the goal was scored? 

The option needs to be taken away. Rely on blueline cameras and automatically look at anything close on a goal that’s scored off the rush. It would take two seconds and would save the refs from another Matt Duchene incident while saving the viewer a lot of time. Let anything else go the way of the dry scrape. 

There’s the temptation to instead tweak -- maybe make offsides challengeable if the entry in question occurs within however many seconds -- but that would just mean more time would be wasted seeing if a play was even challengeable. 

It was proposed at the GM meetings in Chicago that if a coach loses an offsides challenge, his team will be assessed a two-minute penalty. That sounds great as a deterrent, but it won’t stop instances of the needless why-the-hell-not challenge. Late in games, coaches might be just as likely to take their chances in a tie game or a one-goal game. That goal allowed could likely be the deciding tally, so if they’re likely to lose anyway, some coaches might still go for the time-wasting Hail Mary. 

And of course, the loser there is the person hoping to catch their train out of North Station in time, or the person who might doze off during the stupid challenge, wake up four hours later on their couch and develop back issues over time. That was a friend, not me. 

Colin Campbell said at the GM meetings in Chicago ahead of the draft that the league is trying to "temper" the negative reaction the offside challenge has received from players and fans. 

There’s really only way to do that, and that’s to get rid of it.

See you in a year when we’re going through the same thing with goalie interference.