To most, Travis Hamonic is known as a 29-year-old defenseman for the Calgary Flames. To some in Manitoba’s southern summer community of St. Malo, he is simply known as ‘Hamonic’s Boy’. He is a son, a husband, and a hockey player. But now, most importantly, he is being called to fulfill his most important duty as a father.
This weekend, Hamonic made waves throughout the NHL community in announcing – as a father – that he would not be participating in the NHL’s return to play ‘bubble’ and would stay at home with his family. Hamonic’s decision was the first of this nature and prompted a handful of other players to exercise their respective right and follow in the Manitoban’s footsteps.
At 9:16 P.M. on Friday night, Flames GM Brad Treliving issued a press release on the subject. Hamonic’s personal reasoning was made public shortly thereafter.
“Earlier this evening Travis called me to inform us that he has decided to opt out of the NHL return-to-play program,” read the Flames’ statement. “Travis explained that due to family considerations, he has made the difficult decision not to participate in the Stanley Cup Qualifier and playoffs.”
“While we will miss Travis in our lineup, we understand and respect his decision. Our focus remains on preparation for training camp and our upcoming series in the NHL Qualifying Round.”
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Titan Sports 365, Hamonic’s Agency, provided the fully typed explanation from the Hamonic family in a series of Twitter posts:
“God has blessed me with the talent and opportunity to play in the NHL,” Hamonic’s statement read. “Playing in the NHL is a privilege and I take a lot of pride in doing so for an incredible franchise like the Calgary Flames. Most importantly, God allowed my family the opportunity to see his love and grace first-hand last year when our little girl contracted a very serious respiratory virus. Like every parent, everything we do is to provide and protect our kids and try to take away any suffering they may endure. Last year we spent the longest, scariest and hardest week of our lives by our daughter’s hospital bedside. We were unsure of what would come next, but with God’s strength our little girl fought her respiratory virus and recovered. During that long week, we were helpless and couldn’t do anything to help her except hold her little hands, kiss her head and pray. We saw what a respiratory virus can do to our healthy little girl and it’s something no parent wants or should have to go through. Now blessed with our second child, a baby boy, the risk of today’s COVID-19 pandemic is a very difficult one to weigh as parents.”
“Due to what my daughter already has gone through and the concerns if she were to catch COVID-19, I’ve decided to opt-out and seek a leave of absence from the Calgary Flames for the remainder of the playoffs,” the statement continued. “I wish I could lace up my skates and be out there battling, blocking a shot and helping the team win, but my family has and always will come first. Being my little kids’ dad every day is the most important job I have. I love this game and my team. This is a decision that is extremely hard for me to make. I wish my teammates the best of luck and good health. I look forward to joining the C of Red, the greatest fans in the NHL, in cheering on my teammates as they chase the opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup home to Calgary.”
Back in January of 2019, Hamonic took significant time off away from the club and with his wife Stephanie when daughter Charlie was at the Alberta Children’s Hospital unable to breathe on her own. Considered ‘immunocompromised’, Hamonic referenced the potentially serious risk that he would bring to his young daughter and now newborn son should he catch COVID-19.
The National Hockey League Board of Governors and Players’ Association recently signed a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, that, amongst other important labour peace issues, outlined the many pieces of the NHL’s return to play. Amongst that conversation is a clause in which all players have the right to exercise. That provision is the right to opt-out of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scot-free.
Following the initial announcement by Hamonic, six other players have also announced their respective decisions not to participate in the NHL’s return to play, set for August 1. As of Sunday morning, Vancouver’s Sven Baertschi, Dallas’ Roman Polak, Edmonton’s Mike Green, Montreal’s Karl Alzner, Pittsburgh’s Zach Trotman and Boston’s Steven Kampfer have each opted out. Montreal’s Max Domi – who is a Type 1 diabetic – has indicated he will make a decision within the next 7-10 days on his status. Players have until 5:00 P.M. Monday evening to make their intentions known in writing to their teams, without penalty.
With this announcement, Hamonic has now played his final game of a seven-year, $27 million contract – originally signed in 2013 when Hamonic and wife Stephanie were members of the New York Islanders organization – which pays the rugged blueliner $3.86 million annually. He has an estimated career earnings of $29 million. Hamonic had three goals, 12 points and 27 penalty minutes in 50 games for Calgary in 2019-20.
Much like six of the other 24 participating teams, the Flames will now look to other sources of depth with Hamonic having pulled out of the lineup. Calgary takes on the Winnipeg Jets, beginning August 1 in a best-of-five Qualifying Round postseason in Edmonton, in hopes of making it to the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Winnipeg has yet to announce if any player has the intention of non-participation.