Hamilton could make Bruins D even better

Updated: June 18, 2013, 12:02 PM ET
By Craig Custance

BOSTON -- It's always a day that's a bit of a revelation about the next wave of NHL stars. Each year, the NHL brings a group of players projected to be picked at the top of the coming draft to a Stanley Cup finals game, where they're introduced to the media and some players while taking in an NHL game at its highest level.

In the process, we learn about these new stars. Such as, nobody makes Patrick Kane smile quite like Snoop Dogg. When he visited Anaheim during the 2007 Stanley Cup finals as part of the annual prospect tour, Kane sat right in front of the entertainer. He took a picture with him that he still has framed at home.

"My dad said it was the biggest I've ever smiled," Kane said Monday. "It was funny, he had his two little kids with him. One was little Snoop and the other was Spanky or something. It was fun doing that. We had a great time."

On Tuesday, it was the 2013 draft class making the rounds -- Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Darnell Nurse sat down Monday afternoon and chatted with the media after spending time meeting some of the Bruins and Blackhawks. As the media piled into the Bruins dressing room in droves following the Boston morning skate, the group stood in the middle of the room observing what it was like to prepare for a game in the finals. The sheer number of people was an eye-opener for Nurse.

"I've never seen so many media people in one room," Nurse said. "As a professional athlete, that's what comes with it."

About 10 feet away, Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton sat at his dressing room stall after a full practice. Just two short years ago, he was the kid making the rounds in this same city, joining guys such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Gabriel Landeskog.

Now, he is helping his team prepare for the Blackhawks, ready to take the ice if needed. Life can change in a hurry.

"It's pretty cool to look at it now," Hamilton said. "Coming here two years ago I didn't know what was going to happen in the draft. I just came here excited to watch a hockey game."

He recalled sitting in the stands as the Bruins blew the doors off the Vancouver Canucks in one of the most lopsided games in recent Stanley Cup finals history. Hamilton was impressed by the passion and stamina of the Bruins crowd that night.

"The crowd was standing for 10 minutes straight cheering in the first period," he said. "I don't think I've ever seen that before, going to games in Toronto. It was an eye-opener."

On Monday night, he watched again. Hamilton hasn't played in this postseason since a May 23 overtime loss to the Rangers. He had three points in four games against the Rangers, but this time of year it isn't just about offensive production from the back end. It's playing with a physical edge, wiping out bodies in front of the net. Elements of Hamilton's game that are still in development mode.

So the learning process right now might not be in the form he'd prefer.