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BROTHERLY LOVE

Jesse Hamonic will complete special 31-rink tour to watch his brother Travis play when the Flames face the Canucks Saturday night in Vancouver

by BRENDAN PARKER @BParkerTV / calgaryflames.com

VANCOUVER - When you play 10 years in the NHL like Travis Hamonic has, you'll hit some pretty big career milestones. 

But you'd be hard pressed to find one as special and unique as the one he and his brother, Jesse, will celebrate together Saturday night in Vancouver.

Ten years. Thirty-one arenas.

A journey complete.

Jesse has watched his brother play in every NHL arena, except for one. 

The last one will be crossed off the list when the Flames face the Canucks in Vancouver Saturday night.

It wasn't the goal in the beginning - he just wanted to watch his brother play in the NHL.

"In his first year in the league I probably hit four or five and then the next year I managed to get a few more and I think by the second year was when I was like, ya this would be really neat to do this throughout his career," Jesse said.

"Early on in my career he just wanted to see me play in a lot of different places," said Travis. "He travelled around for work a lot so obviously he wanted to see me play in some different rinks."

Then as he crossed more and more rinks of the list, the goal became more realistic.

"What happens is the first 10-15 are kind of easy cause it's just any random city, it works out and you go," Jesse said. "Every year I was always kind of nervous, is it even feasible? So like last year I had to start taking some really unique one-day trips."

There are a couple of important qualifications for each stop.

Most important - Travis has to be playing in the game, not just attending a game in the rink. And there has to be a puck to commemorate the occasion.

"The trainers already know so every time he's coming they grab me a puck from the game, so he's got a big chest full of every puck from every rink that he's seen me in," explained Travis. "It's pretty cool."

"A few years ago, Ashley (Jesse's Wife) for Christmas got me this custom puck case, it only holds 30, so obviously tomorrow I'm going to have a floater and then when Seattle is in the league, which I'll also have to hit up as well. I'll have to figure out a way to make the trophy box a little bigger. But we're definitely going to make a little collage and make something a little more prominent now that we have this complete," Jesse said.

 

 

But more important than the milestone, the arenas, or the pucks, is what it all represents.

Support. 

"It's a pretty cool tale of a brother supporting his brother big time," Travis said. "He's seen me in a lot of big games and he's also been there in some rough games, too, and always a familiar face to see after games when he's been in those buildings. It's a neat thing to look back on."

It's one of the many examples of the special brother bond that was instilled from an early age growing up in St. Malo, Man..

"I think my brother and I have a pretty dynamic relationship, a pretty different relationship just given what we've gone through as brothers, losing our dad, I think we have a pretty tight bond," said Travis.

"Travis and I have always had a very unique close relationship forever. But I think this hockey thing, it's kind brought it even more deeper," echoed Jesse.

And hockey has always been a common thread throughout it all.

"When I was really, really young, my brother played, he was four-and-a-half years older than I am and I grew up watching him play, so I wanted to play," recalled Travis. "Just like any older brother, younger brother relationship you just want to follow your brother around and do what he's doing, so I think originally I kind of got into the game because of him." 

Even though Jesse isn't willing to take much credit for his brother's hockey success.

"I always joke with people that I don't work at Nutrien by accident from a hockey perspective," Jesse laughed. "He always played with me and my friends so when you're a little kid trying to compete with kids five years older than you, but Travis always had this natural innate talent that people recognized from a very young age."

Both brothers now have families of their own. Travis and wife Stephanie have two children, Charlie and Henry.

Jesse and Ashley, daughter Ella, and are expecting another little one later this year.

Young families, geography and work schedules don't often allow for a lot of time spent together, so the visits in each city, wherever they may be, are cherished by both.

"It's been neat and you know you spend these times on the road trips we get to see each other, when he comes to these cities you get to see each other and we live in different cities - he's in Denver and I'm obviously here in Calgary… so we don't see a ton of each other anymore but when we get the chance it's always nice," Travis said.

"It's something that we kind of text and keep in touch and get excited about it," agreed Jesse. "It's not just about seeing hockey games, it's the visits before, it's the dinners hanging out after the game if they're around, and so it's kind of neat to put this all together and officially kind of finish my tour."

Which he'll do at Rogers Arena in Vancouver Saturday night.

"It's kind of bittersweet," Jesse said. "I'm excited because it's been a journey for the last 10 years, kind of following Travis career and celebrating this along the way."

"I'm glad my wife and daughter are here with me because they've been with me for many of the arenas and so it's kind of a bit of a family celebration, Jesse sasid."

"For us, as a family I think it's pretty cool. He's proud of it, I'm proud of it. But I'm sure he won't stop, he'll keep traveling," Travis said.

And it will always mean a lot to both brothers.

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