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SYOSSET, N.Y. — Travis Hamonic reiterated during locker clean out day on Tuesday what he told MSG Network following the New York Islanders’ Game 5 exit on Sunday: He loves being an Islander; he loves New York, and he loves the organization.
Newsday’s Arthur Staple surprised the hockey world Tuesday morning by reporting Hamonic had rescinded the trade request he made to Islanders GM Garth Snow before the season. The 25-year-old defenseman confirmed he’s staying with the team after health concerns of a close family member had “stabilized.”
“It was a tough, trying year but I had the support of the organization and my teammates behind me through the whole thing, and I couldn’t be more thankful for that,” Hamonic said. “In the last little while we’ve learned that the situation has stabilized itself. So, first and foremost, just relief for that, thankful for that and pretty grateful.”
In November, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that Hamonic had quietly requested a trade to be closer to his home in Manitoba. The uniqueness and request put Snow in a tough spot limiting his options, but Hamonic was willing to wait for the GM to find the right deal. No trade materialized and the defenseman played 72 games during the regular season and all 11 for the Islanders in the playoffs.
“He’s an exceptional player, but an even better guy,” said fellow Islanders blue liner Nick Leddy. “He’s a great guy to have around in the locker room. He’s the type of guy that you want to be playing with.
A second-round pick by the Islanders in 2008, Hamonic has grown up in the organization, making his NHL debut during the 2010-11 season and seeing the franchise go from hard times to back-to-back 100-point campaigns. He’s developed into a reliable top-pairing defenseman, something Snow was probably looking to get back in any potential deal.
Islanders head coach Capuano said he found out about the decision on Tuesday in a meeting with Hamonic and Snow, and was obviously happy to learn the defenseman would be returning.
“Forgetting him being a top defenseman on our hockey club and the minutes that he logs, it’s just having a good guy and having a good teammate and a good leader and a character guy,” Capuano said. “You need those types of guys to win.”
The personal situation affecting Hamonic over the course of this season didn’t affect him on the ice. He led the team with 23:49 of ice time per game and tied a career high with five goals and recorded 21 points.
“You just go out and play and focus on the game and deal with it,” said Hamonic. “My teammates and the organization have been so supportive and you just go out there and try to play. That’s all you can do.”
Almost every Islanders player who met with the media on Tuesday noted the family-type atmosphere within the organization. It’s been a big part of why the team’s chemistry has carried over into on-ice success over the last several years. That’s something attractive to players and one of the reasons why Hamonic is thrilled to be be staying.
“I wouldn’t have signed my seven-year deal if I didn’t like it here,” Hamonic said. “I love it. I love living here. I love everything about being an Islander, so I couldn’t be more ecstatic or happy and to know that especially things back home stabilized, I think that’s the main thing. I couldn’t be more grateful.”
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