Travis Hamonic has opted out of the NHL Return to Play Plan for the Calgary Flames.
The defenseman, who missed two games in January 2019 to be with his then-8-month-old daughter, Charlie, when she was hospitalized with a respiratory virus, cited concern for his family during the coronavirus pandemic as the reason he opted out.
"We saw what a respiratory virus can do to our healthy little girl and it's something no parent wants or should have to go through," Hamonic said in a statement through his representative, Titan Sports Management, on Friday. "Now blessed with our second child, a baby boy, the risk of today's COVID-19 pandemic is a very difficult one to weigh as parents.
"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. 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."
Hamonic scored 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 50 games before the season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He's in his 10th NHL season, third with Calgary, after being acquired in a trade with the New York Islanders on June 24, 2017.
Training camps will open in the teams' local markets on Monday for the start of Phase 3 of the NHL Return to Play Plan. The 24 participating teams will travel July 26 to the two hub cities -- 12 Western Conference teams to Edmonton and 12 Eastern Conference teams to Toronto -- where play will begin Aug. 1 with the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, the start of Phase 4.
The Flames (36-27-7, .564 points percentage) are the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 9 seed, the Winnipeg Jets (37-28-6, .563), in one of eight best-of-5 qualifier series, with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The loser will have a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery, which will be held Aug. 10. The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10.
Any player may choose not to participate in Phases 3 and 4 without discipline or penalty. The player must notify his team in writing within 72 hours of the completion of the ratification process in the Return to Play Plan. The ratification of the plan was announced Friday.
"[It's] probably not a huge surprise, quick frankly," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said on Sunday. "My reaction was we had a good discussion. Certainly, that's his right. We respect it. I had a good discussion with Travis. I understood where he was coming from. And that was the extent of it.
"Certainly, Travis is not only a player but a person that I know well. As I told him, I respect his decision. Every player has that right, has that ability, but like everything else, our focus is on the people that are here. That's just the way it has to be. The focus has to be on getting ready over the next three weeks, I guess it is, to play August 1st. Sure, we'll miss him. But you move forward and that's what we're going to do."
A statement from Flames defenceman Travis Hamonic: God has blessed me with the talent and opportunity to play in the NHL. Playing in the NHL is a privilege and I take a lot of pride in doing so for an incredible franchise like the Calgary Flames. Most importantly, God allowed my family the opportunity to see his love and grace first hand last year when our little girl contracted a very serious respiratory virus. Like every parent, everything we do is to provide and protect our kids and try to take away any suffering they may endure. Last year, we spent the longest, scariest and hardest week of our lives by our daughter's hospital bedside. We were unsure of what would come next or where this would lead, but with God's strength our little girl fought her respiratory virus and recovered. During that long week, we were helpless and couldn't do anything to help her except hold her little hands, kiss her head and pray. We saw what a respiratory virus can do to our healthy little girl and it's something no parent wants or should go through. Now blessed with our second child, a baby boy at home, the risk of today's COVID-19 pandemic is a very difficult one to weigh as parents. 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. 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. I love this game and my team. This is a decision that is extremely hard for me to make. I wish my teammates the best of luck and good health. I look forward to joining the "C of Red," the greatest fans in the NHL, in cheering on my teammates as they chase the opportunity to bring the Stanley Cup home to Calgary. Sincerely, Travis Hamonic