By Peter Koutroumpis
RALEIGH, N.C. – As part of the Carolina Hurricanes’ first significant player-for-player deal in recent years, defenseman Dougie Hamilton has taken it all in and is ready to start anew.
As a player in a new city, finding the rink, the right door to go in, the little things to establish a comfortable routine, are details he has gotten out of the way.
Along with forward Micheal Ferland and prospect defenseman Adam Fox, Hamilton arrived in the Triangle from the Calgary Flames, all three part of a trade back in June that sent forward Elias Lindholm and defenseman Noah Hanifin out to Western Canada.
“Just trying to get comfortable as quick as you can,” he said.
“The guys have been great. I knew a couple of guys coming in. Living in the same building as other guys (also) makes things a lot easier.”
After putting in a week-plus of pre-camp conditioning at Raleigh Center Ice (RCI), Hamilton looked forward to a good first day of training camp on Thursday.
“It was great. I’ve been skating here informally for a week or so – it’s great to get out there with the coaches and see how they are,” Hamilton continued.
“It’s good to get out with all the guys and get goin’. It’s been great so far and I’m looking forward to a good camp.”
Not only faced with new teammates, but also a new coaching staff led by first-year head coach Rod Brind’Amour, the 25-year-old blueliner had nothing but positives to say about making the transition onto the ice at PNC Arena a smooth one.
“The first thing you obviously notice when you look at him and his resume is he’s been through everything,” Hamilton said of Brind’Amour.
“The respect level that the players have (for him) is through the roof, and hard not to really respect a guy like that – a Stanley Cup champion, a really good player. So, it’s fun to be able to learn from a guy like that. Obviously, he works hard off the ice too. We’re gonna follow him. He’s going to set the tone, it’s going to be a good tone, and we’re gonna be there following.”
Last season with the Flames, Hamilton scored a career-high 17 goals, tied for the most in the National Hockey League (NHL) by a defenseman.
To add to that, he ranked second among D-men in shots (270) and a career high in time-on-ice (TOI), logging an average of 21:32 minutes per game.
Respecting not only the coaching staff, but the organization that sought to get him to lead the back end offensively and defensively, Hamilton understands he’ll be expected to carry a large load and hopes to enhance what he considers a talented young defensive corps of players.
“We’re really deep. You look at all the D and every guy can play, play well, and play a lot,” he pointed out.
However, as a six-year veteran playing on his third team since being drafted ninth overall in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Boston Bruins, Hamilton knows all too well that first appearances are great – but following through in becoming a successful team is the true litmus test.
He’s a realist and knows that perception doesn’t always translate into reality.
“As a comparison, we kinda had that in Calgary when I got traded there – a good D corps,” Hamilton said.
“They were supposed to be one of the best. It didn’t really work for us; we didn’t turn out so good that year.”
It’s a situation he hopes will produce different results in Carolina.
“We’re gonna have to make it work,” he concluded.
“Right now, we’re good on paper, and we gotta make it work on the ice.”
Peter Koutroumpis: 401-323-8960, @pksport