BOSTON – He was among a handful of players sent home early and not retained as one of the Bruins’ “Black Aces” from about midway through the Bruins’ playoff run until the Stanley Cup championship was clinched.
As training camp commenced this weekend at TD Garden, he didn’t even have a stall in the main dressing room but is instead dressing down the hall with the rookies and AHL vets.
But if Bruins 2007 first-round pick Zach Hamill is offended, he’s not expressing his disgust in public.
“Well, yes and no,” said Hamill about being disappointed that he wasn’t around to hoist the Cup. “But I mean it was their time. Those guys put a lot of work in and time. The work they put in must have been enormous and they won the Cup. So that was great.”
Hamill is also taking the less-than-NHL accommodations at the Garden in stride. He’s more focused on getting back into the conversation of which Bruins prospect might be the next one to emerge as an NHL regular. Seemingly every year since Hamill was picked eight overall by the Bruins the organization has tabbed at least couple forwards that have passed him by in the pecking order – with the likes of Joe Colborne, Jordan Caron, Ryan Spooner, Jared Knight and even this year’s second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev.
He says he worked out five days a week over the summer and was on the ice at least three of those days. He plans on putting his best effort in during camp and then letting the Bruins’ brass decide where he belongs.
“Well, yeah. They’re going to do what they’re going to do,” he said. “But I’m just going to work hard and try my best and see what happens.”
Over the course of the last two seasons, Hamill has skated in just four NHL games. He struggled through the first half of last season in the AHL but finished with a respectable 43 points in 68 games. Head coach Claude Julien has now coached Hamill in camps every season since coming to Boston, so he’s a pretty accurate gauge of how Hamill’s handling the camp competition.
“I’ve seen more confidence in Zach. Zach has struggled a little bit with that in the past but right now he’s shown that after the amount of years he’s been at our camp that it’s a time for him to show that he’s benefited from it and I find him playing a lot more confidence,” said the coach. “And he’s one of those guys that you’ll probably see more of what he can do in a game situation than in practice because he’s a smart player smart individual and he can make some real nice plays so we’ll get a chance to see that from him.”
Only a quirk in the CBA related to Hamill’s birth date kept the fourth-year pro under contract with the Bruins this summer. So unlike other ’07 draftees he didn’t get a chance to test restricted free agency. However, he says he doesn’t regret that and he’s glad to be back.
“Yeah, this is where I want to be. The Stanley Cup champions, what more could you ask for?”