Last season, Travis Hamonic missed most of Vancouver Canucks training camp.
It was largely out of his control. The Canucks didn’t sign the veteran defenceman to a PTO until just before the start of training camp and he needed to quarantine due to COVID-19 restrictions. The team didn’t even officially sign Hamonic until the eve of the regular season in order to maximize their salary cap relief from Micheal Ferland going on Long-Term Injured Reserve.
This season, Hamonic missed training camp altogether and it’s unclear if he’ll even play this season. On Monday, the Canucks placed Hamonic on a temporary leave of absence as he “works through personal matters.”
According to NHL salary cap website CapFriendly, the leave of absence is unpaid, so the Canucks will neither pay Hamonic's salary nor will he have a cap hit for the duration of his leave of absence. Hamonic's cap hit was reduced to $1.875 million after he was waived and assigned to the Abbotsford Canucks in the AHL. Now the full freight of his $3 million cap hit has been freed up for the Canucks.
Canucks general manager Jim Benning initially said on the first day of training camp that Hamonic would be flying in that day.
“He'll join the team tomorrow,” said Benning. “He had a reason to come a day late so he's flying in today and he's got to do a COVID test, when we get that negative test back he'll join the group.”
That never happened.
It’s still unclear why Hamonic is absent. Rob Simpson of Vancouver Hockey Now reported that a source told him Hamonic is not vaccinated for COVID-19 but the Canucks have neither confirmed nor denied that report. Others have reported that there is more to the situation and the Canucks have requested privacy for Hamonic.
At the end of last season, at least, Hamonic was happy with his experience with the Canucks.
“When I take a look at myself personally and how much I've enjoyed playing the game this year surrounded by this group of guys and especially under Greener — he's a really good coach, in my opinion and he's kind of let me have a role and I've been able to run with it,” said Hamonic. “I spoke earlier in the season about playing with Huggy but it's made my job certainly a lot easier to kind of find your voice, find your role and enjoy playing.
“On a personal level, my wife and our two kids have really enjoyed Vancouver. Everybody has been extremely welcoming and we have nothing but amazing things, so we'll let things kind of play out as they do, but it's been a really good year for me and my family in this city, in Vancouver and wearing that jersey.”
Hamonic was expected to skate on the top pairing with Quinn Hughes this season. In his absence, Tucker Poolman has been bumped up to the Hughes pairing, with Tyler Myers stepping onto the second pairing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson.