After dealing with family concerns off the ice and playing his hardworking, gritty game on it, Travis Hamonic had certainly earned a little R & R back home in Manitoba this summer.
That’s exactly where he went at the end of the season — his secluded cabin a few hours outside of Winnipeg, MB, to plan a wedding with his now-wife Steph, and spend his days fishing and hanging out with their dog Bauer. Cell reception is scarce and the brush is plentiful, which is just fine with Hamonic.
“Our life is hectic enough as it is, always on the go, so it's nice to be able to get out to somewhere where you feel safe and comfortable and really just somewhere where you can kind of recharge your batteries,” Hamonic said. “It gives you a perspective on a lot of things, and you realize that you can appreciate a lot of different things. It's a good place for me and my family to enjoy our time.”
Hamonic stayed up there through June, but he has everything he needs on his six-acre property. He has his own gym so he doesn’t miss offseason training, though clearing the brush is a workout in and of itself.
“It's a bit of a workout chopping wood,” Hamonic said. “I love it. It's the outdoors—it's in me. I mean, it's certainly not for everybody, but if you enjoy that kind of lifestyle, for me, there's nowhere better than being on the water fishing or surfing or just being out there and enjoying kind of shutting yourself off from the world.”
It definitely invokes the training montage from Rocky IV, with Rocky lifting logs, chopping wood and heaving a net full of rocks in a remote cabin. Hamonic’s battles with Russian Evgeni Malkin – who fills in as a black-haired Ivan Drago – only adds to that scene. (Cue the Hearts on Fire.)
The hard work is fuelled by the empty feeling of last year’s playoff exit to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Yes, getting to the second round was an achievement for Hamonic and the Islanders, but no, he’s not satisfied with finishing in the final eight.
“It was a pretty crummy feeling leaving and getting on that flight in Tampa knowing that we were done,” Hamonic said. “I'm still mad, and I'm sure a lot of guys don't want to feel like that ever again. I think that's kind of your motivation in the dog days of summer time, knowing that you have to get ready for a big year.”
Hamonic’s coming off of two big years, scoring a career-high 33 points (5G, 28A) in 2014-15, while leading the Islanders in ice time (23:49) last season. So for a heart-and-soul defenseman that logs a lot of minutes and serves as an emotional leader, the recharge seems to help.
He’s back to skating four days a week and should be back on Long Island in about a month, charged up and ready to go.