Travis Hamonic won the NHL Foundation Player Award on Tuesday night - worthy recognition for his tremendous work with children who've lost a parent.
Along with his trophy - the first individual award for an Islanders player since 2011 - the Islanders defenseman will get $25K to donate to a charity of his choice.
"It's a humbling honor obviously to have that award, but truthfully, whether it was me, [finalist] Wayne [Simmonds] or anybody else that does great work, that's kind of what is symbolized through the award," Hamonic said. "But on behalf of those kids and everyone that I've met, it's certainly an honor."
Hamonic humbly accepted the award, thanking the Islanders staff who facilitate the D-Partner Program and thanked the other players in the league for their community work. That's just who he is, someone who's more comfortable having heart-wrenching, personal discussions, than giving awards speeches.
Video: Hamonic wins NHL Foundation Player Award
"We're incredibly proud," his mother, Lisa Hamonic, said. "Just watching him up on the stage, seeing where we came from and where he is now, putting to good use this tremendous tragedy in our lives. If his dad was here looking down, which I'm sure he is, he'd be very proud of the positive that's come out of this."
"For Travis, it's never been about this," his brother Jesse said of the awards ceremony. "The most sincere form of charity is your time and giving your time to people. It's something he knows is the right thing to do. It speaks to the person that he is. An award of such significance like this to recognize him, as a family, it makes us so incredibly proud of him."
What matters to Hamonic is helping children grieving with the loss of a parent. He knows the sadness all too well, having lost his father and feels a sense of duty to be there for children going through the same thing.
"It's not about winning or losing today," Hamonic said. "It's really about just bringing recognition and healing to a lot of people and trying to reach out to as many people as we can."
He'll also be thinking of where to donate his $25K. As of Tuesday night, his plan was to spread it out to a few different charities, including the Children's Wish Foundation and brain cancer research, inspired by his love of The Tragically Hip lead singer Gord Downie, who's currently afflicted with the disease.
But what Hamonic wants - and what his winning the Foundation Player Award can do - is to bring more attention to how we help people deal with grief - an issue he doesn't think gets enough attention, but something that affects all of us.
"I know being a guy, being sad and dealing with your emotions isn't the most common thing to do publically, so it's pretty important if we can try and discuss grief and the process of it," Hamonic said. "The biggest thing that I struggled with when I was younger - and a lot of the young people I meet nowadays - is that as you get older, it's not cool to talk about your emotions and what you have to go through. Just knowing it's okay and whatever you're feeling, it's normal. And knowing that other people have gone through it and the common thing is that everyone has to go through it so you feel a bit more comfortable."
Hamonic tackles this issue by meeting and connecting with one kid at a time, but if more people talk about it and reach out to people who are going through tough times, his impact can stretch far beyond Brooklyn and Long Island.
The trophy and personal recognition are well-deserved and a nice honor, but for Hamonic, the hope is that the Foundation Award can be a platform for something bigger.