Calgary Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic on Friday night opted out of the restart to become the first NHL player to express he will skip the remainder of the season.
Hamonic made the decision just hours after the league and players union each ratified the return-to-play plan. The season will start Aug. 1 with a 24-team playoff tournament after being halted for 4 1/2 months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 29-year-old cited the health of his 2-year-old daughter as the prime reason. According to published reports, his daughter was hospitalized in January of 2019 when she was 8 months old due to a respiratory illness.
“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,” Hamonic said in a statement. “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 said the organization accepted Hamonic’s reasoning.
“Earlier this evening Travis called me to inform us that he has decided to opt out of the NHL return to play program,” Treliving said in a 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.”
Hamonic recorded 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 50 games this season, his third with Calgary.
Overall, he has 37 goals and 151 assists (188 points) in 637 career NHL games. Hamonic spent his first seven seasons with the New York Islanders.
The Flames will face the Winning Jets in a five-game playoff series that begins Aug. 1 in Edmonton.
—Field Level Media