Calgary Flames' Hamonic becomes 1st NHL player to opt out of league's plan to play during pandemic

Just hours after the NHL announced it had reached a deal with the NHLPA to resume play amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Calgary Flames issued a statement to say one of the team’s players told them he would not be taking part.

Defenceman Travis Hamonic, 29, is the first known player to opt out of the hockey league’s plan to resume its season.

READ MORE: NHL officially names Edmonton, Toronto as its hub cities in plan to resume play during pandemic

“Earlier this evening, Travis called me to inform us that he has decided to opt out of the NHL Return to Play Program,” Flames GM Brad Treliving said in a news release. “Travis explained that due to family considerations, he has made the difficult decision not to participate in the Stanley Cup qualifier and playoffs.

“While we will miss Travis in our lineup, we understand and respect his decision.”

In 50 regular season games this season, Hamonic scored three goals and collected 12 points. The veteran defenceman is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Through his agency, Titan Sports 365, Hamonic released a statement revealing more about his daughter’s previous health struggles and the decision to step back.

“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,” the statement reads. “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 it 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 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, the risk of today’s COVID-19 pandemic is a very difficult one to weight 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.”

Treliving said his team is focused on preparing for training camp and the Flames’ upcoming qualifying round series against the Winnipeg Jets, which begins on Aug. 1.

The series will take place in Edmonton, which earlier on Friday was officially revealed to be one of the NHL’s two hub cities where the remainder of the season and playoffs will be played. The other hub city is Toronto.

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