Flames' Travis Hamonic becomes first NHL player to opt out of playoffs

Jul 10 2020, 10:17 pm

The NHL is back, but Travis Hamonic won’t be for the Calgary Flames.

The Flames defenceman became the first player in the league to opt out of playing when the NHL restarts, citing family reasons.

“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,” said Flames GM Brad Treliving in a media release.

“While we will miss Travis in our line-up, we understand and respect his decision. Our focus remains on preparation for training camp and our upcoming series in the NHL Qualifying Round.”

The NHL and NHLPA announced earlier in the day that they had ratified a four-year extension of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, which finalized plans for the league to return to play in the hub cities of Edmonton and Toronto.

Hamonic, or any other player on one of the 24 teams returning to play, has the right to opt out of playing for any reason.

The Flames defenceman clarified his decision on Twitter through his agent. Hamonic explained that his daughter was hospitalized with a respiratory virus last year, so you can understand why he would be reluctant to return to play.

“Last year, we spent the longest, scariest and hardest week of our lives by our daughter’s hospital bedside,” Hamonic said in a statement. “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.”

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A statement from Flames defenceman Travis Hamonic: God has blessed me with the talent and opportunity to play in the NHL. 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 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.  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. Sincerely, Travis Hamonic

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The Flames are backing Hamonic, but this is still a big blow to their chances at making a run in the playoffs. Hamonic was second to only to captain Mark Giordano in average ice time among Flames blueliners this season.

Their best-of-five series against the Winnipeg Jets, which begins August 1, just got a whole lot more difficult.

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