The left handed right winger was the Penguins 1st draft pick in 1977, though it wasn't until the second round and 30th overall. He was a promising scorer out of the London Knights organization of the OHA. He scored 92 points in 65 games in his last year of junior.
For 8 straight years Hamilton made appearances in the NHL, but mostly played in the minors. His longest tour of duty was 25 games in his rookie year. In total, he played 95 NHL contests.
"You've probably heard it 100 times: Play regular and things start to fall in place, but that's true. Its not a matter of you just saying that because you're not playing. Things do fall in place." Hamilton reasoned.
"It does get frustrating. I think they're still looking forward to something. I still think I have a lot more talent than I've ever shown. Its just a matter of when its going to come about."
During the 1980-81 season, things started looking up for Hamilton.
"I had a good camp and I managed to stick with the team. That makes a lot of difference, but then you've just jumped over one hurdle. You've got another 100 to go."
The Barrie Ontario native was placed on a line with skilled center Greg Malone at one point early in the season. Hamilton responded well, picking up several assists. However Jim had to leave the team as his wife Tina was giving birth to their first child. When he returned, someone else had taken his lineup spot.
"When I started playing with Malone, I was getting a few more assists, but that was just a feel of the game coming along. Then you realize where a guy's going to be and you're not jumping into the lineup!"
Frustrated by his jumping all over North America, Jim finally left in 1985, and continued his playing career in Europe.