Around the League

Thoughts on NHL players opting out of Return to Play

Yesterday Travis Hamonic made headlines when he announced he will be opting out of Return to Play. He is the first of what might be more than a few NHL players opting out. He released a statement explaining his decision.

Hamonic, who had a scare with his infant daughter last year, cited family reasons for opting out. He is also a pending UFA, and while not a star, Hamonic is a solid player. There were many supporting Hamonic and his decision. Yet there were a few knuckleheads who were upset with his decision.

1. First and foremost, it takes a lot of courage to be the first player to opt out. Hamonic opted out within hours of the ratification of the CBA and Return to Play. This means he already knew his plans. His family came first.

2. Family always comes first. Hockey is a game and, for these guys, a job. Putting it into perspective, would you quit your job if it put your family at risk? I know I would. It is no different for these players. The people who have the gall to criticize Hamonic for his decision need to take a step back. Look in the mirror and think about others.

3. If any Ranger player were to opt out, I would not be mad at the player. I’d be disappointed because it would limit my team’s chances of winning, but that’s where it ends. This is a serious disease in which there is no cure and no viable treatment. We are learning new things about this everyday.

4. It does make me wonder if opting out would have been less a concern if the NHL enforced shields on players and masks on coaches. That seemed like a no-brainer to me, but the league and players decided they didn’t want either. In a pandemic. Hamonic is the first to opt out, although I doubt this had impact on his decision.

5. The only Ranger I could have seen opting out is Kaapo Kakko, due to pre-existing conditions. He already received clearance from the Rangers to play and he’s already in camp. Still wouldn’t surprise me. We also don’t have much information about personal lives about the players.

6. If a player shows up to camp/hub cities wearing the Bubble Boy getup, I will donate $100 to a COVID-19 charity. Get on that.

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  • It is their right not to play under these circumstances. And fans should STFU if they don’t agree with that stance, and not make decisions for other people who face real risk and good health.

    And Harmonic is 100% right not to play, given his family’s unfortunate circumstances. We sometimes forget that athletes are human beings too.

    • Tony

      If the shoe were on the other foot, all these loud mouths would do the same. They are just showing the world how stupid they are.

      If it were me, and the way I love my children, there is no way in heck I’d put their heath in jeopardy. To me this shows the character of the man!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • 100% Walt.

        The “they make millions” mantra is BS. There’s no amount of money that offsets putting your family at risk. No amount.

    • “We sometimes forget that athletes are human beings too”

      ^ I wish we had this kind of advocacy for stuff like child brides and sex trafficking.

      If someone were to come onto this site to talk about how some pro athlete should be doing this or that with their opt out option… I wouldn’t think any higher or lesser about them. Nobody forgets that these are well paid athletes.

      • Just saying that people are great at telling other people what they should do. Justifying it by saying that athletes make all this money.

        My issue with athletes making a lot of money, is actually baseball, where they are making embarrassing money, but go on the DL for every little thing.

        Whereas physical sports like football and hockey, I have no problem with them making whatever they can, as fast as they can. Due to the severe injury risks they face.

          • of course, but do they paid more for being violent?
            I just brought that b/c I think hockey players spend much more time playing hockey for less money than football players

  • Considering that the average NHL career is less than 5 years, that means that there are plenty of players who’ve never made the big bucks before they’re busted down to the AHL or off to some minor league in Europe, I don’t begrudge them doing what it takes to set themselves and their families up with a decent life style while they can.

  • It’s his right not to play. He exercised it. Everyone needs to do what makes them feel secure.

    Now let’s play hockey

  • I wouldn’t be mad if any player opts out, no body should be forced to be in any environment that they dont feel safe in. whether you make 5 dollars or 5 billion dollars.

    what I won’t put up with — and i know there will be fans like this— where every step of the way they are screaming ‘pandemic!!’ to every goal, assist, or update. no one is forcing you to watch.

  • “… would you quit your job if it put your family at risk. I know I would.”

    First of all, he didn’t quit. And second of all, millions of people do not have the luxury… yes, even during a pandemic… to take a long break from their jobs even as it IS putting their families at risk CURRENTLY.

    It’s the obscene amounts of money they make that gives him the option to do this. If he couldn’t feed his family, he’d damn well lace them up in a heartbeat.

    When we’ve all been watching ourselves, our family, and our friends have to go out there and take some risks everyday to keep society moving forward, it not a great look to see those at the top of the food chain tell everyone they’re not ready yet and frankly they’re rich enough to where they can just sit back and wait and let everyone else put their families at risk for a while longer.

    I get it. I understand his decision. But these athletes are not doing anything noble or heroic here by sitting out, while the rest of us have to go back to work as soon as we possibly can.

    Playoff time is critical in their job. And it’s going to be in an extremely controlled environment that’s going over the top to try and maintain safety. I don’t know too many people who can call their job at it’s most critical time and say “No thanks. You’ve paid me so much money over the years that I’m just gonna wait this out. But I fully expect to return at a time of my choosing once I feel more comfortable.”

    Sorry, that just rubs some people the wrong way. I’m fine with players who choose to sit. But not fine with condescending articles to fans about their reactions. What is so hard about understanding that?

    • It’s opinion no matter what, but anyone entitled with own ones.
      I personally see it as players executed their rights. But at the same time saying players afraid the risk to the family I don’t understand b/c… For this period they can sacrifice being around the family and play hockey as they sat enough at home. Being insulated from them no risk their families but only to the players. Even that all players MUST respect it doing to right thing not to get this from virus outside( parties, hang with friends and etc…)

  • I agree with the players right to opt out. However there are many folks out there, who don’t have the luxury of opting out. It’s go to work or find a new job.

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