Up to this point, the 2015-2016 season has been a season of firsts involving the Boston Bruins. A total of 14 players have made their debuts in a Boston uniform, including six, who were also making their NHL debuts but this has also been a year of firsts for former Bruins who have made their returns to TD Garden while wearing the sweaters of their new teams.
Bruins fans have said, “Welcome back” to players such as Gregory Campbell and Milan Lucic and last night, old friend Dougie Hamilton was back on the sheet of ice that was his home for three seasons (2012-13 to 2014-15).
As a Bruin defenseman, Hamilton produced 22 goals and 61 assists totaling 83 points in 178 games but when his contract expired, despite the many rumors that have been unfounded, Hamilton simply decided that he would prefer to work elsewhere. A decision that everyone makes at least once in their working lives.
Hamilton was traded to Calgary on June 26, 2015, in exchange for the Flames’ 2015 1st and 2nd round draft choices along with another 2nd round pick that Calgary had acquired from the Washington Capitals.
Although, it appears the Flames will not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, Hamilton’s season has been a successful one as he continues to develop into a steady, strong skating, puck-moving blueliner, who can continue to contribute offensively as this year’s numbers of nine goals and 18 assists for 27 points will attest.
In his first game at TD Garden (2-1 loss to the Bruins) since being dealt out of Boston, Hamilton heard a chorus of boos from the Bruins faithful every time he touched the puck but after the contest, the 22-year-old native of Toronto said he enjoyed his return.
“A lot of time spent here, so it brings back a lot of good memories and stuff so it was pretty cool, but yeah, I guess a lot of fun,” Hamilton said when asked to describe how it felt to be back in Boston.
Like most professional athletes, Hamilton used the booing from the opposing fans as motivation.
“I don’t know, I kind of liked it. It kept me going,” said Hamilton, who registered two shots on goal, minus-1, and one blocked shot in 19:16 Time On ice. “They (fans) are obviously watching me out there. It means something to them so it’s just motivation for me.”
Hamilton was quick to note that not all fans reacted to him negatively during his short stay in the city he used to call home. There were those who welcomed him back by digging out their Bruins jerseys with “Hamilton” and his number 27 on the back to show their support.
“Yeah, I mean, a lot of support tonight, I think,” Hamilton observed. “Just went and saw some right now in the stands and heard a lot of positives… saw a lot of jerseys and stuff. I think you’ve got to think about that kind of stuff and those fans instead of the ones that are booing you and stuff like that.”
“It shows that a lot of people here liked me and I love the support from them so it’s kind of… it’s a good feeling.”
Of course, Hamilton wished his new team had won the contest but he also wished he could have had more time to interact with his former teammates.
“It’s nice to come back here and see them,” said Hamilton. “It’s unfortunate that we didn’t have a day here yesterday to go for a dinner with some guys, it was a quick little trip, but just kinda cool to play against them again.”
When asked if he had any regrets about leaving Boston, Hamilton was quick to respond that he appreciates the time he had with the Bruins and is enjoying being a Flame now.
“I enjoyed my time here and (I’m) thankful for all the opportunities and stuff,” he said. “I developed a lot as a player in the three years I was here. I learned a lot, so I’m just thankful for them and the opportunities they gave me. You’ve just got to think of that stuff and move on. I think I’m happy being a Flame now and it feels so far removed already. I think it doesn’t really feel the same as earlier in the season where it was kind of fresher. I feel like I’m more part of the Flames now and I’m enjoying myself.”
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.