NHL

Flames' Hamonic, Canucks' Baertschi lead wave of NHL players opting out

Calgary Flames defenceman Travis Hamonic has decided not to play in the NHL's restart, a decision centred around the fact his daughter contracted a very serious respiratory virus last year. Since Hamonic's decision, several other players have followed suit.

Players have until 5 p.m. ET Monday to declare they are opting out without penalty

In this January 2020 file photo, Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames skates against the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. The defenceman has opted out of the NHL's planned restart. (File/Getty Images)

Calgary Flames defenceman Travis Hamonic and Vancouver Canucks forward Sven Baertschi have decided not to play in the NHL's restart.

Later Saturday, Edmonton Oilers defenceman Mike Green, Montreal Canadiens defenceman Karl Alzner and Boston Bruins defenceman Steven Kampfer also opted out, while Dallas Stars defenceman Roman Polak may not report to camp.

The Flames said Friday night that Hamonic opted out of the NHL's return-to-play program while Canucks general manager Jim Benning on Saturday confirmed the news on Baertschi, who spent the bulk of the regular season with the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League.

Players have until 5 p.m. ET Monday to declare they are opting out following the ratification of the NHL's return-to-play protocol.

Hamonic, 29, had three goals and 12 points in 50 games this season.

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The Flames defenceman said in a statement posted to Twitter that his decision centred around the fact that his daughter contracted a very serious respiratory virus last year.

"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," Hamonic said.

Reported trade request through agent

The Flames will face the Winnipeg Jets in a best-of-five play in series starting Aug. 1 in Edmonton.

"Travis explained that due to family considerations, he has made the difficult decision not to participate in the Stanley Cup qualifier and playoffs," Flames general manager Brad Treliving said in a statement.

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Baertschi, 27, collected two assists in a six-game cameo in November and was invited as one of Vancouver's three extra forwards for training camp, which begins Monday.

Upon being returned to Utica, his agent Andre Rufener asked Benning to trade him to another NHL team, according to the Vancouver Province. 

The Swiss winger has one more year remaining on a contract that carries a cap hit of just over $3 million US.

"Sven informed us late yesterday that he has chosen to opt out of the NHL Return to Play Program. It was a difficult decision but ultimately one we respect and understand," Benning said in an email Saturday to CBC News.

"We have added Kole Lind to our Return to Play roster and will continue to focus on preparation for training camp."

In March 2015, Vancouver acquired Baertschi from Calgary for a second-round draft pick in that year's draft. The Flames had drafted him 13th overall in 2011. 

Kampfer, who played 10 games with the Bruins this season, said his wife and son have a congenital defect that could cause complications with the virus and called it "one of the hardest decisions" he has had to make.

Oilers, Canadiens release statement

Oilers defenceman Mike Green has decided to sit out due to family reasons.

"Due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and after much consideration, I've decided for deeply personal family health reasons not to participate in the return to play," Green said in a statement released by the Oilers on Saturday.

The Montreal Canadiens also released a statement, announcing that Alzner is opting out.

Stars blue-liner Polak passes on playing

Polak is not on the Stars' roster for the start of training camp Monday, and a team spokesman said the 34-year-old veteran won't be attending at this time.

He is a pending free agent who last month agreed to a deal in his native Czech Republic next season and told reporters there he wasn't planning on returning to the NHL if play resumed.

Polak, who had four assists in 41 games this season, broke into the NHL during the 2006-07 season with St. Louis and also had stints with Toronto and San Jose.

With files from CBC Sports and The Associated Press

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