have a lot to be happy about these days. Not only did Hamonic burst onto the NHL scene last season with 26 points in 62 games during his first professional season, but his hometown of Winnipeg was recently awarded an NHL franchise, again.
The family and friends of Islanders defenseman
“Hockey in Canada and Winnipeg especially is such a main attraction,” Hamonic said. “It’s a lifestyle up there and the support that they’re going to give the team will be huge.”
The puck will drop for the Winnipeg Jets on October 9, 2011 marking the first NHL game in the city since April 14, 1996. Needless to say, the people of Winnipeg are pretty happy about the return of their team. Hamonic returned home after the Islanders season ended and saw Winnipeg’s hockey-crazed fans firsthand.
“When the team was finally announced everyone flooded the streets, everyone took off from work,” Hamonic said. “It was a cool thing to experience and see as a Winnipeg citizen.”
Hamonic is currently one of the Islanders youngest players at 20-years-old, and was just six-years-old when the Jets left for Phoenix.
“I grew up watching the Jets and I remember being at the Jets’ referendum when they were getting ready to leave,” he said. “I didn’t really understand what was going on at the time, but it was an emotional time for a lot of people.”
Fifteen years after they left, Hamonic has a deeper understanding of how important the franchise is to Winnipeg.
“When you start to grow up, you realize what was going on and how the Jets leaving was really significant to the city,” Hamonic said.
The other members of the Hamonic family felt the significance as well. Hamonic used to attend Jets games at Winnipeg Arena, but when the Jets left town, there was a void to fill.
“Some of the fondest memories that I have of my childhood is going to Jets games with my brother and my dad,” Hamonic said.
His family will now get the chance to see Hamonic play in that same arena.
“My family is happy to maybe drive 25 minutes to the rink and watch me play twice this year,” Hamonic said. “My family, my friends and everyone in Winnipeg is really excited.
And I’m ecstatic to be coming with a great franchise like the Islanders and go play in Winnipeg.”
Hamonic will face his childhood team for the first time on Nov. 3 when the Islanders host the Jets at Nassau Coliseum. The big date on Hamonic’s mind though is Dec. 20. That’s when he will play his first hockey game in Winnipeg since his Junior hockey days with the Winnipeg Saints.
“There’s no better scenario than to play a game in my hometown with the Islanders,” Hamonic said. “I can’t wait.”