The National Hockey League and the National Hockey League Players' Association have cemented their agreement regarding a return to play this season, but it has become clear now that not everyone is on board. Over the last few hours we have now heard reports of at least two players opting out of the NHL's proposed return to play and it will be very interesting to see if any other names join this list in the next few days.
First the big one, according to an official report directly from the Calgary Flames organization beloved defenseman Travis Hamonic has informed the team that he intends to remain home during this time. The move comes as a big shock not only because Hamonic is a very valuable player to that organization, making this a move that will unquestionably hurt them in the playoffs, but also due to the fact that Hamonic is one of the most well respected defenseman in the NHL for his class both on and off the ice. As we would learn however it is perhaps for that reason that the Flames defenseman has chosen health over hockey.
From the Flames official announcement:
"Earlier this evening Travis called me to inform us that he has decided to opt out of the NHL Return to Play Program. 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 line-up, we understand and respect his decision. Our focus remains on preparation for training camp and our upcoming series in the NHL Qualifying Round."
Now this morning we have another report from Vancouver Canucks insider Rick Dhaliwal of TSN 1040, and this time it sounds like it is a Canucks player that will be sitting on the sidelines. Although the Canucks have not yet made a statement on the matter, Dhaliwal reports that he has been informed Canucks forward Sven Baertschi has also opted out of the NHL's planned return to play. Baertschi is far less impactful a player for his team than Hamonic to be sure, but if the Canucks' depth is challenged by injuries or suspensions this is one that could hurt them down the line as well.
Players still have time to opt out if they choose, so stay tuned for more on this developing storyi.