When news of the Dougie Hamilton trade came in, fast and furious – “hearing Calgary is a big contender for Hamilton”; two minutes later, “Hamilton is now a Flame” – it sent the hockey world into a frenzy. How could the Boston Bruins be giving up on what looked like a franchise defenceman so early into his career? And what, exactly, would the Calgary Flames be giving up for him?
Blockbuster trades don’t come around this often, and a name like Hamilton on the move means big things. So it was even more shocking to learn Hamilton was being moved for a mere three picks: 15th, 45th, and 52nd overall in the 2015 NHL entry draft.
What happened with those picks is inconsequential (although, considering the Flames got Rasmus Andersson and Oliver Kylington anyway, they're happy regardless). The fact that he was traded for so little – a mere three lottery tickets – is what's important.
Oh, and the fact that he was moved to begin with.
And why was that? Because the Bruins put themselves into cap hell, leaving themselves a little under $8 million in cap space: most of which, Hamilton would have taken up.
This is, of course, Hamilton's fault. Why blame the front office for horribly mismanaging their assets and dishing out big money to subpar players when you can point fingers at the 22-year-old kid who just wants his payday? (To Claude Julien's credit, he doesn't blame Hamilton; it is, however, step one in Boston media getting to point fingers at him. After all, how dare he not conform to team loyalties at his own personal expense! What disrespectful nerve!)
It isn't just money, though. Oh, hell no. It turns out Hamilton has been secretly drowning puppies this entire time. Or at the very least, everyone hates him:
If the anonymous source quote wasn’t enough, the very next paragraph follows up by suggesting Hamilton destroyed the Bruins’ chances at trading for the Arizona Coyotes‘ third overall pick. There’s no evidence of this, but it’s just a casual suggestion thrown in there: “Maybe Dougie was exerting some control, so maybe he told them he wouldn’t sign with Arizona, and maybe that’s why the Bruins never got their first rounder. Maybe.” You can’t disprove maybes!
And thus, everything is Dougie Hamilton’s fault, and while the Bruins would have liked to keep the young top-pairing defenceman, they just couldn’t, in part because he was a locker room cancer.
(This doesn't explain why they received so little for the trade, but hey, anything to justify him not being in Boston anymore, right?)
If there’s one thing Boston knows how to deal with, it’s uppity locker room cancers that everyone hates. That’s exactly what Tyler Seguin was, after all. He didn’t produce at the level expected, and as a young 20-something, was known to like to party. Surely, this meant he was bad, a detriment to the team, and had to be kicked out immediately. And Boston media had no problems jumping all over this narrative, justifying giving up an elite talent they had lucked their way into, for the good of the team.
Attitude issues or not, the Bruins sure could use Seguin right about now. Just the same as they could use Hamilton. If you're rebuilding, those are exactly the players you want (see: Flames, Calgary).
This is old hat for Boston media, though, and a great means to justify what ultimately turn out to be horrible decisions that hurt their team.
Let’s say the issues of Hamilton being a loner are true. Is that the way you respond to that? “Well, it seems nobody likes our potential franchise guy. Better ship him out.” That’s not the way a good team handles those situations. Patrick Kane had a pretty gross reputation, too – in fact, far worse than anything Seguin or Hamilton may have ever done, all the way up to assault – and the Chicago Blackhawks worked with him. Those stories have disappeared, and the Blackhawks are once again Stanley Cup champions.
Memo to Boston: if this keeps happening with your young, star players, the young, star players probably aren't the problem. It's probably you.
And no matter how desperate the Bruins may have been to get the cancerous Hamilton away from them, there's still no justification for practically giving him away. Dragging Hamilton's name through the mud isn't a defence for this trade, because it's indefensible from the Boston side.
The Flames will happily reap the rewards, though. They're a team full of youngsters, with many top players still in just their early-mid 20s (and in one particular case, a teenager). Maybe the loner who nobody likes will make some friends here, and fulfill his likely potential to be an elite defender for many, many years to come.
That's just the chance they'll have to take.
by Ari Yanover