St. Malo, Manitoba’s Travis Hamonic, an often high-minutes defenseman for the Calgary Flames, has decided to opt out of the NHL’s Return to Play plan.
That means he will not be in the Flames lineup when Calgary meets Winnipeg in the NHL’s Stanley Cup qualifying round on Aug. 1.
Hamonic has not played a game since Feb 8, due to a shoulder but was about to return on March 12 when the NHL shut down.
This is also a contract year for Hamonic who will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the playoffs. The Flames had played for sometime without him and it’s unlikely he was going to return to Calgary.
However, it was clear last night, when Hamonic released the following statement through his agents at Titan Sports, that his daughter’s respiratory issues was the reason for his decision not to play:
“Like every parent, everything we do is to provide and protect our kids and try to take away any suffering they may endure,” he wrote.
“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 or where this would lead, 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 go through. Now blessed with our second child, a baby boy at home, 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. 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 everyday is the most important job I have.”
Flames General Manager Brad Treliving released the following statement on Friday evening regarding Hamonic’s decision:
“Earlier this evening Travis called me to inform us that he has decided to opt out of the NHL Return to Play Program. 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.”