The National Hockey League will begin Phase 3 of its Return to Play on Monday July 13th, but some players who have been given the option of opting out of playing during the global pandemic caused by COVID-19 have begun to exercise that right. Over the course of both Friday and Saturday a combined 6 NHL players have chosen not to play in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, some of whom were on teams that are considered serious contenders for the Stanley Cup.
Here is a full list of the players that are out so far:
#1 Travis Hamonic, Calgary Flames.
Hamonic was the first to announce his intention to skip the playoffs on Friday night, announcing that he would be sitting this one out due to health concerns in his family. Hamonic has always been a class act and given his family history I think every single one of his fans understands why he would but family first here.
#2 Sven Baertschi, Vancouver Canucks.
News broke that Baertschi had opted out on Saturday but the Canucks forward has since made as statement of his own on social media. Baertschi was likely to see very little action in the playoffs and that no doubt played some role in his decision not to play.
#3 Roman Polak, Dallas Stars.
Although there was no official statement regarding Polak's future on Saturday the veteran defenseman had previously stated during a Czech interview that he would do everything in his power to remain home. Polak has signed a one year contract with a team in the Czech league.
#4 Mike Green, Edmonton Oilers.
The loss of Mike Green is a significant one for the Oilers and perhaps only the Calgary Flames have suffered a bigger blow with the loss of the aforementioned Hamonic. The news of Green's decision began to leak out on Saturday night, a bitter pill for the Oilers who acquired Green at the deadline to see him play just two games in an Oilers uniform.
#5 Steven Kampfer, Boston Bruins.
This one had to be an impossible decision for poor Steven Kampfer. The Bruins are among the favorites to win the Stanley Cup this year but both Kampfer's wife and child suffer from a congenital heart defect that makes them especially vulnerable to the current pandemic. Kampfer made the very honorable decision to protect his family and no one is going to fault him for it.
#6 Karl Alzner, Montreal Canadiens.
Much like Sven Baertschi, Alzner likely realized that he would see very little to no playing time during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Habs defenseman has played a combined 13 NHL games over the last two seasons with the Habs, spending most of his time in the American Hockey League.