|Leah Hennel / Calgary Herald|
With a new season fast approaching, one player’s name continues to pop up in conversations when it comes to the Boston Bruins.
Dougie Hamiton was traded to the Calgary Flames in the offseason for draft picks, in what was a surprise makeover of the Bruins roster by Don Sweeney. People were clearly baffled by the move (including me), simply because we didn’t have enough information at the time, other than the fact that the Bruins traded their most promising defensemen on the roster. That’s not to mention that he is only 22 years old with the sky being the limit for his potential in the NHL.
Predictably, we now have details coming through about his time in Boston. Rumors about him and Reilly Smith isolating themselves from the team and not wanting to be part of it were all over the radio airwaves and social media in the past couple of days. Typical Boston media, right?
Call it a smear campaign, call it excuses, but all rumors point to Dougie Hamilton not wanting to play for the Boston Bruins. He wasn’t liked by all of his teammates and he wasn’t the most personable guy in the locker room – apparently. He didn’t like Claude Julien’s system – again, apparently. What’s clear is that it was ultimately Hamilton’s decision to leave the Boston Bruins, not the other way around, as evidenced by the lack of counter-offers from Hamilton’s side, after the Bruins reportedly offered multiple deals.
So why did he truly leave then? Well, one side to his wish to leave the team is that Hamilton simply did not fit in with the Bruins style of play. He probably understood this as well. In a team that is built on gritty, grind-out type of play, he was the complete opposite. He was a soft defenseman in the defensive zone, but clearly showed what he’s capable in the offensive end of the ice. Protecting the net and making the defensive plays did not interest him. In order to develop and thrive in the Bruins organization as a defenseman, you need to be able to do both, or at least make sure you prioritize your responsibilities in the defensive end, before even trying to do anything on offense.
But the other side – the social and team chemistry aspect – tells a lot about Hamilton’s character, as well as the leadership presence in the Bruins’ locker room.
What does it say about the leadership in that room when a veteran like Brad Marchand openly admits that it had a tough time integrating the young players into the mix? In any team in society, not just sports, someone needs to be that person that can gel the group together. Talk about failing to step up to replace the loss of Boychuk and Thornton. The veterans completely dropped the ball on that aspect and deserves just as much of the blame. Sure, there was constant roster turnovers, but nothing too crazy to make this an impossible task for them.
On the other hand, what does it say about a front office that continues to misidentify the type of young players they want to grow and develop long-term in their system? Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, and Reilly Smith tops the list. No one knows who might be next. Fans are afraid that the next young potential star (yes, David Pastrnak) might go if he doesn’t “fit.” At what point does the front office stop prioritizing fit over pure hockey skills, especially with younger players?
As far as Hamilton is concerned, he seems to be doing much better in Calgary:
“Last year I was playing with (Zdeno) Chara and trying to stop the other teams’ top lines and that was pretty much my job. But this team is really fast-paced and relentless and I’m excited for that.”
I’ve just been skating with them a couple days now and it’s a great atmosphere with the team in the room and on the ice - just a lot of fun,” said Hamilton. “That’s something I look forward to, having fun at the rink and with these guys it’s easy.” - Calgary Sun
We haven’t heard from anyone in Hamilton’s side to confirm that all of this is entirely true. Until then, it’s all rumors and speculation. We may never hear him address any of it, which shouldn’t bother anyone. It may be better that way, after going through the Seguin a couple of years ago. Everyone seems eager for a fresh start and a new season.
It’s time for the media and fans to do the same.
Read more from Andy Hwang by clicking here. Find him on Twitter on @andyhwang05 and follow @BruinsLife for all Bruins news and updates.