By Cara Bahniuk
As the NHL’s Return to Play plan was approved with the passing of the CBA Friday evening, the protocols of the return have become more clear. As of Saturday afternoon, Travis Hamonic of the Calgary Flames and Sven Baertschi of the Vancouver Canucks have opted out of the playoffs.
NHL players have until Monday, July 13 at 5 PM ET to opt out without penalty.
Hamonic published a statement through his agent’s Twitter account after notifying the Flames of his decision. His personal reasons included his young daughter, who battled a respiratory virus last year, and the recent birth of his son.
“My family has and always will come first,” Hamonic said. “Being my little kids’ dad every day is the most important job I have.”
Baertschi alerted the Canucks late Friday that he was opting out. The 27-year-old appeared in six games with the Canucks this season and was being called up as a black ace for the playoffs.
The official opt out language in the approved Return to Play plan states:
Player Opt Out of Resumption of 2019-2020 Season
It is anticipated that Players on NHL Clubs taking part in the resumption of the 2019-20 Season, other than those with health concerns related to a risk of infection or complications from infection or those with family members who are similarly at risk, will participate in the resumption of the 2019-2020 Season (Phases 3 and 4). Any Player, however, may individually choose not to participate in Phases 3 and 4 without discipline or penalty, in which event he shall notify his Club in writing (with a copy to NHL CR and the NHLPA pursuant to Exhibit 3 of the CBA) of his decision by no earlier than the effective date of this agreement and no later than 5:00 p.m. New York time on the third day following the effective date of this agreement if choosing not to participate in Phases 3 and 4. In the event that Players opting out on either a League-wide or per-Club basis materially impacts the integrity of the Return to Play Plan, the NHL and the NHLPA shall confer and then jointly determine whether to continue with the Return to Play Plan. In the event the Return to Play Plan is cancelled, the parties will endeavor to replicate their respective rights and obligations under the CBA, including by determining which provisions of these Transition Rules may survive as well as revisiting or adjusting the Critical Dates Calendar on an acceptable basis
The plan also states that an opting out player may not sign a contract extension, or 2020-21 contract, until seven days after the effective date of the agreement. Participating players may sign new contracts two days after their clubs elimination from the playoffs.
A clause to keep an eye on is that team doctors will determine if a player who has an underlying health condition is fit to play. This will all be decided before training camps officially begin.
Players who, after consultation with Club doctor who conducted PPME, and the Club’s infectious disease expert, are determined to be at substantial risk of developing a serious illness as a result of exposure to the novel coronavirus shall be deemed to be unfit to play and shall not be permitted to participate in either Phase 3 or Phase 4. A player may initiate a second opinion concerning his fitness to play status pursuant to Paragraph 5 of the Standard Player Contract.
While no Tampa Bay Lightning players have opted out yet, Steven Stamkos was injured during Phase Two and will not be available for the start of training camp. General manager Julien BriseBois said he expects Stamkos to be ready by the round robin games.
On a media conference call, #Bolts GM Julien BriseBois said Steven Stamkos suffered a new lower-body injury during Phase 2 and will not be a full participant on day one of training camp. BriseBois said he does expect Stamkos to be ready for the round robin games.
— Bryan Burns (@BBurnsNHL) July 11, 2020
UPDATE 7:10 PM: The Edmonton Oilers have announced that Mike Green has opted out of the playoffs.
Mike Green has informed #Oilers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Ken Holland that he will be opting out of the @NHL's 2020 Return To Play Program. https://t.co/dV241FVuyz
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) July 11, 2020
“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 his statement.
Green and his wife Courtney have two young children, Axel who is 4 years old and Lula who was born in November.
Roman Polak was also removed from the Dallas Stars roster. He hasn’t officially opted out, and has until Monday to do so, but expressed concern to the Athletic about returning a month ago.
UPDATE 9:45 PM: All togerther, seven players have opted out. New additions include Karl Alzer of the Montreal Canadiens, Steven Kampfer of the Boston Bruins, and Zach Trotman of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Seven players have now opted out: Alzner (MTL), Kampfer (BOS), Green (EDM), Polak (DAL), Hamonic (CGY), Baertschi (VAN), Trotman (PIT).
Still have just under two days for players to make their choices and inform their teams.
— Catherine Silverman (@catmsilverman) July 12, 2020
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