After nearly 10 months, 30-year-old Travis Hamonic has returned to the ice. This weekend, the NHL’s North Division Vancouver Canucks announced that the St. Malo product had signed a professional tryout (PTO) to skate at training camp with the team in preparation for the 2020-21 season.
With fellow Manitoban Micheal Ferland set to be placed on the Canucks’ long-term injured reserve once the regular season begins on January 13, Vancouver will surely have a contract with Hamonic’s name on it waiting in his stall. With the paperwork most likely already processed, it is just a matter of time until the professional tryout becomes an annual average value.
“He’s an experienced player that we know can come in and help us,” Canucks GM Jim Benning said on Sunday. “I’m excited that he chose to come in and sign a PTO with us because I think he’s going to help with our back end. When we talked about bringing him to camp, one of the things that came up is we’re going to have some young players on defence this year and he can help with their development. He’s a veteran player, he plays with passion, he plays hard and we think he’s going to be a good fit with our group.”
With the NHL officially set to return for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs back in the summer months of 2020, players were asked to determine if they would participate, no strings attached or hard feelings either way. They were provided with a three-day window to make the significant, health-related decision for the betterment of their families while putting their careers on hold – and in some cases, in jeopardy. Of the 816 total players serving the 24 postseason-bound NHL clubs, just seven made the decision to stay home. The first of those announcements came from the former Calgary Flames blueliner.
The veteran defenceman released a lengthy statement regarding his decision by way of social media:
“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,” the Flames defenseman reflected. “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.”
The former Winnipeg Sharks Bantam AAA defenceman has skated in 637 total NHL regular season games over the course of 11 years. The majority of his work came with the New York Islanders, but Calgary has been his home for the past three seasons. Hamonic has 37 goals, 188 points and 591 penalty minutes between the two teams.