NHL News and Notes: Players Beginning To Opt Out
With the NHL restart officially set for Aug. 1, we’re getting our first wave of players who are deciding to sit out the postseason. Additionally, one of the Lightning’s best players just suffered an injury, and teams won’t be able to release test results. Here is the latest in NHL news.
Hamonic, Green among opt-outs
Once the NHL’s return-to-play plan was finalized, several players, most notably Flames defenseman Travis Hamonic and Oilers defenseman Mike Green, decided not to report to training camps and will sit out the expanded 24-team playoffs. Other players who have informed their clubs they would not be reporting include Bruins D Steven Kampfer, Canucks F Sven Baertschi, Stars D Roman Polak, and Canadiens D Karl Alzner.
Hamonic, 30, was the first player to announce that he was not going to play. Between his daughter, who was hospitalized last year with respiratory issues, their baby boy, and the fact that he’s a free agent after this year, the decision to opt out made sense.
“I wish I could lace up my skates and be out there battling, blocking a shot and helping my team win, but my family has and always will come first,” Hamonic said. “Being my little kids’ dad every day is the most important job I have. I love this game and my team. This is a decision that is extremely hard for me to make.”
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In a statement, Green mentioned that he was not participating in the postseason due to the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and “deeply personal family health reasons.”
Kampfer revealed that he has a son with a congenital heart defect that could cause complications with the virus.
Players have until Monday to say whether they’re opting out of the season or not. They will not face any punishment if they rule against playing, nor do they have to give a specific reason for why they are deciding not to play.
Stamkos injured during workouts
Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is among the players who plan to play when the season opens back up next month. However, he’ll be limited at the start of training camp due to a new lower-body injury that he suffered in voluntary workouts.
The 30-year-old center suffered a core muscle injury in early March but was fully recovered from it before this new injury recently. However, general manager Julien BriseBois expects Stamkos to be ready by the time games begin.
Tampa Bay is one of the top four seeds in the Eastern Conference and will play round-robin games to determine seeding instead of participating in the qualifying round.
In 57 games this season, Stamkos registered 29 goals and 37 assists. The perennial All-Star has 422 goals and 832 points in his 12-year career in the NHL.
Teams not allowed to release test results
In an announcement made by the NHL on Saturday, the 24 teams set to resume play have been prohibited from releasing coronavirus test results and injury information during the season. The league will continue to release the testing capacity and positive test result information.
“We’ve talked to the NHLPA about it and continue to feel that medical privacy is important in the process,” said NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. “At least for now, we’re going to maintain a policy where the league is announcing (testing) numbers and clubs are prohibited from giving any information with respect to COVID test results; and, for the purposes of making the system work, any injury information, going forward.
“The media and the public will know what kind of situation we’re in, but we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re doing it on a club-by-club or player-by-player basis. The interests of medical privacy are important, and we’re going to protect them.”