“By the time the season starts, we will be 100 percent,” said Jim Benning, talking about the vaccination rate of his Vancouver Canucks, just last Thursday. That no longer seems to be the case. As reported by Rick Dhaliwal on Monday, veteran defenseman Travis Hamonic may decide to opt-out of this coming NHL season or even retire.
Hamonic, 31, is famously a family man. He was among the few players who opted out of the playoff bubble in 2020, choosing to stay home with his immune-compromised daughter. He also has always tried to play in Western Canada, in order to be close to family. Although he has yet to publicly give a reason for being hesitant when it comes to getting the vaccine, it’s believed that it is for family reasons.
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What Happens if Hamonic Opts Out?
Players are given the option to opt out of the season, giving teams the ability to either push the date of their contract forward a year, or remove the season from the contract altogether. It’s also been speculated that Hamonic may choose to retire altogether. If Hamonic were to choose any of these options, the Canucks would save $3 million this season.
$3 million extra could be instrumental in getting star Restricted Free Agents Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson signed. The two players have been negotiating with the Canucks for what seems like an eternity, and have now missed training camp and two preseason games. Of course, the best-case scenario would be to have all three players contributing to the team this year, but if that’s what pushes the ball over the line, fans wouldn’t be complaining too much.
In the event that Hamonic doesn’t return to the Canucks, there would be a sizeable job opening on right defense, likely playing with Hughes. The Canucks signed Luke Schenn during Free Agency this year. Schenn played 18 games with the team in 2018-19 as Hughes’ “bodyguard”. After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning, could he take his spot back next to Hughes?
Several NHL players have gotten ripped apart in the media over the last few weeks for their decisions to not get vaccinated. We hope that Travis and the Hamonic family do not have to go through this added pressure, and would encourage fans and media to remember that he’s a good human being. We understand that this is a difficult decision, and that they’re trying to do what we feel is best for them. However, it would be awesome to see that toothless smile back in blue and green!
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