Small group of players opt out of NHL's restart as deadline passes

Travis Hamonic is the most notable name to opt out of the NHL restart. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Travis Hamonic is the most notable name to opt out of the NHL restart. (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

With the exception of Canadiens forward Max Domi, NHL players had until 5 p.m. ET Monday to opt out of the league’s return to play schedule, and a small number chose to do just that.

Most notable of the names absent from their team’s respective trophy chase is Flames blueliner Travis Hamonic, who cited health concerns surrounding his young daughter as his key reason for opting out.

Hamonic issued a statement through his agency explaining his decision:

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Meanwhile Domi, who has Type-1 diabetes and is considered “high-risk” due to COVID-19, will take another 7-10 days to decide whether he will suit up for the Habs for their postseason bid.

“Considering Max's health condition (Type 1 diabetes), both parties have agreed to take this responsible approach and to take this time to evaluate the ongoing situation, in order to make the best decision for Max's health at the end of this period,” the Canadiens wrote in a statement on Sunday.

Defenceman Karl Alzner, who likely wouldn’t have seen much if any time time with the Canadiens this summer, chose to forego “Black Ace” status with Montreal due to the risks of the pandemic.

Several more blueliners across the league are taking a pass on the rest of the 2019-19 campaign as well, including the Stars’ Roman Polak, who posted four points in 41 games with Dallas this season, and Bruins rearguard Steven Kampfer, who saw only 10 games with the big club, tallying two assists.

Up-and-down Canucks forward Sven Bartschi will be missing from Vancouver’s lineup, and Oilers defenceman Mike Green, who was acquired by Edmonton at the deadline to help shore up its power play, round out the list of players opting out. Panthers assistant Mike Kitchen is the lone coach opting to sit out the NHL’s return.

The NHL moved to “Phase 3” of its return-to-play protocol on Monday, with full training camps resuming in each team's home city before clubs will head to their respective “bubbles” in either Toronto or Edmonton on July 26.

In a statement issued Monday, the league announced that it is aware of 30 players who tested positive for COVID-19 since Phase 2 began June 8, and another 13 in Phase 1.

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