The chant didn’t last long, but its target was clear. With a few minutes to go in the third period of the Bruins’ 4-2 victory over the Islanders Friday night, the fans tried out an appreciation for Dougie Hamilton, the callow Bruins defenseman who appears ticketed for a long tenure in Boston.
That “Dougie! Dougie!” cheer was followed, not long after, by another ode to the player who tallied the first multi-point game of his young career. “Teach me how to Dougie” came on the sound system while Hamilton was on the ice, a song he has gotten used to hearing over the past couple of years.
“Just tried not to fumble the puck when I was going back there for it,” Hamilton said.
Though he didn’t get his first NHL goal (he had two assists), Hamilton is rapidly gaining fans — some of whom know the “Dougie” dance a bit better than others — as he makes his case to remain with the Bruins instead of being sent back to juniors . At the start of the season, the Bruins had six games to make the decision.
“Looking at him now it’s pretty amazing that he got passed up eight times to go ninth overall in the 2011 draft,” Milan Lucic said. “We’re real fortunate to have him. He’s got a lot of skill, he’s got a lot of poise, he plays with a lot of confidence.”
Asked if he thinks Hamilton might be headed back down, Lucic said, “Definitely not. It’s obviously an executive decision, but I don’t expect him to go back.”
Poise is the word that keeps coming up, repeated by Lucic and Patrice Bergeron, who have been there at 19 years old, like Hamilton, who understand the difficulties. Hamilton, meanwhile, seems shocked by none of it.
“I think you guys are more surprised than I am,” he said.
Asked if he still feels nervous — as coach Claude Julien had mentioned — Hamilton said simply, “No.”
Hamilton’s best moment might have been the start to the insurance goal by Bergeron in the third period, a pass from the Bruins’ zone. He found the seam and sent the puck to Brad Marchand, who sprung Bergeron on the breakaway.
“He’s come in here with obviously a good job, having played four months of hockey,” Julien said. “Right now he’s playing with a lot of confidence. The guys that he’s playing with have been extremely helpful with him on the ice.
“I think that’s why our guys drafted him, because they saw a lot of things that we’re seeing right now. We like his size, we like the way he moved on the ice. At the same time, we thought he had a good hockey sense. He sees the ice well, finds the passing lanes.”
Julien pointed to the Bergeron goal as evidence, with the play starting from Hamilton’s pass deep in the zone.
“Those kind of things are what our scouts saw in him,” Julien said. “Those kind of things he’s demonstrating right now. We have to be pleased and impressed with a player playing the way he has been.”
Because Dennis Seidenberg has missed a couple of games with an injury, Hamilton has been switched around a bit, playing with different partners. He said that hasn’t been easy. But, then again, he hasn’t seemed to have too much trouble making it work.
Maybe the biggest adjustment for Hamilton has been realizing where he is, what logo is on his uniform — that he is, in fact, playing for the Bruins.
“I don’t know if it’s really sunk in yet that I’m playing in the NHL,” Hamilton said. “It feels so weird being out there instead of being a kid watching and dreaming about it.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.