Dougie Hamilton couldn’t hide the emotion as he sat on the Bruins’ bench late in the third period of the team’s 4-2 win over the Islanders on Friday.
The B’s rookie defenseman started grinning as the rap song “Teach Me How to Dougie” started blaring out of the TD Garden speakers. From the balcony down to the good seats, Bruins fans — those young enough to know the dance and some perhaps inebriated enough to think they know it — started doing the “Dougie” dance.
The crowd was excited, and why not? They just got to see their new folk hero, the 19-year-old blueliner with the curly blond hair and sheepish grin, turn in his best game as an NHL player. Hamilton excited the masses with his first career two-point night, picking up assists Nos. 2 and 3 in his first full week in the NHL.
The two-point performance earned Hamilton first star honors, as well as adoration from the more than 17,000 B’s fans in attendance.
“It feels good,” he says of the success he’s found — he added an assist in nearly 20 minutes of ice time in Monday’s win over Carolina. “I think I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities so far, and I just have to make the most of that. I’m just trying to work my hardest and do my best out there.”
He’s done that and more so far. Hamilton has proved on multiple occasions so far why he was the No. 9 pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. In fact, you could even say he’s looking like a steal.
“Looking at him now, it’s pretty amazing that he got passed up eight times to go ninth overall in the 2011 draft,” teammate Milan Lucic said.
Hamilton continues to show his ability to move the puck with ease, as displayed on a gorgeous cross-ice pass out of his own zone to help set up Patrice Bergeron‘s third-period goal against the Islanders, a thing of beauty.
That’s already become expected of the youngster. He’s meeting those high expectations early — earlier than most expected. That’s aside from Hamilton himself, of course.
“I think most of you guys are more surprised than I am,” he said, sitting in his stall surrounded by a throng of media Friday. “I didn’t really have any expectations. I wanted to come in and do my best.”
Bruins fans, of course, are Boston fans, which means expectations are always going to be high. So far, Hamilton has delivered on those, and that has already made him a fan favorite in Boston. That much was evident as thunderous “Dougie, Dougie” chants rained down from the Garden crowd in the final minutes on Friday, preceding the lesson on how to “Dougie.”
“Yeah, it’s getting pretty old,” he said of the song before quickly adding, “but it’s obviously nice.
“I was kind of watching a little bit. I started laughing when it came on. I don’t know, I’ve gotten used to it over the last couple of years, but it’s definitely pretty cool.”
It doesn’t figure to be the last time the song is heard at the Garden, especially if Hamilton keeps this up. But that doesn’t mean all of this has set in just yet for the 19-year-old.
He shows poise beyond his years on the ice, but when he speaks about making an impact so quickly, it’s a reminder of how young he still really is.
“I don’t know if it’s really sunk in that I’m playing in the NHL,” he said. “It feels weird being out there instead of being a kid watching and dreaming about it. I’m just trying to stay focused and do my best.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien said following Boston’s preseason scrimmage with Providence he thought Hamilton was a little bit nervous. Hamilton was asked whether he still feels those nerves after a successful first week in the league.
“Uh, no, I don’t,” he flatly stated.
That much has become very apparent. Hamilton has left no doubt that this is where he belongs.